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Virus could help combat arthritis

A virus first discovered in primates living in the Tana River Valley in Kenya is being tested by a London company as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.

Viron Therapeutics is reporting that in tests with mice, VT-346 -- derived from the Tanapox virus -- has been up to 100 times more potent than other biological drugs on the market.

Viron has pioneered the use of viruses to fight human diseases and has another drug derived from a virus in clinical trials for the prevention of inflammation caused by organ transplantation.

If VT-346 proves successful in human trials, it could hit a lucrative market.

The other drugs used to counter what is called the inflammatory TNF protein are expected to have global sales of more than $20 billion this year.

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