Experimental flu treatment study being conducted in Wichita

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Wichita, KAN. -- As the flu season progresses, a clinic in Wichita is using a new medicine that is still in an experimental testing phase to treat people.

Heartland Research Associates is conducting this flu study in hopes of being able to treat the flu, even when patients are in later stages of infection.

The medicine Tamiflu works by stopping the flu virus from growing, and when the medicine first came out, that was a big deal. Today, flu viruses are becoming more difficult to stop and while Tamiflu is still effective, there is concern that it might loose that.

Dr. Terry Klein, Medical Director at Heartland Research Associates tells us that their study is looking at an alternative to Tamiflu. The reason being, right now Tamiflu has to be taken within 48 hours of the first signs of the flu. For many, that time frame is too small; some cannot get to the doctor in time and others might have symptoms that are minor within the first 48 hours and don't get medical treatment only to find their symptoms get more severe with time.

The study is looking to see if adding this new medication to Tamiflu adds to its effectiveness or if this new medication can replace Tamiflu. Klein said that they expect the results of the new medication to be very encouraging for treatment of the flu.

Klein could not reveal the name of the medicine or much detail around it because that could contaminate the data and add biases but he is very excited about this study.

Many people shy away from allowing themselves to become part of medical research. They like to use the words 'Guinea Pig' when asked if they would be willing to try an experimental medication.

The study being done in Wichita is in 'phase two', where the medication being looked at has already been tested at least once in humans. 'Phase one' is what most people think of when they hear experimental medication; this phase is when the medicine is first introduced to humans after being tested on lab animals.

One way that Heartland Research Associates try to get people into their facility is by compensating them for their time and travel. According to a spokesperson for Heartland Research, people will be paid at least $200 for undergoing this new treatment. For each visit the patient makes, they get paid. The cost of the exam and medicine is covered by Heartland Research.

The number of visits required can range from three to many more, meaning the more visits a person has to make, the more they will get paid. Heartland Research wanted to make clear that this is not a free service but more like a job, a person has to come in, spend their time and be dedicated to the process.

There are some requirements to be eligible for this flu study.
A person must be:
- Experiencing symptoms similar to flu
- Have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher
- Must have at least a cough, sore throat or nasal congestion
- Also must be experiencing fatigue, headache, muscle pain or be feverish
- The symptoms cannot be over 48 hours old
- The patient cannot have received a flu shot after August 1st, 2013

If a person does qualify for the study they can expect to have their nose swabbed and blood drawn multiple times. They will also have to keep a journal and make notes at least twice a day of their progress.

Heartland Research is one of many research facilities nationwide doing this study. The main goal is to have at least 1,500 people take this experimental medication; locally, Heartland Research is wanting at least 50 participation.

As of Sunday, February 9, there were still opening available for the study. More information can be found at Heartland Research.

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