Winnipeg doctor seeks alternate H1N1 treatment

A Winnipeg doctor is searching for better ways to treat people who contract swine flu.

A Winnipeg doctor is searching for better ways to treat people who contract swine flu.

Until now, the only treatment options for people with the H1N1 flu virus have been the antiviral drug Tamiflu and to put people with serious respiratory problems on ventilators.

Dr. Anand Kumar is working with Cangene, a world-renowned and Winnipeg-based biopharmaceutical company, hoping to develop an alternative treatment for those who become critically ill.

"I approached Cangene to do this because I took care of most of the people in the spring who were critically ill with H1N1 — at one point that was 40 patients ventilated in the [intensive care unit].

"It's a very bad feeling for all involved to see these people critically ill, struggling for their lives and having nothing left to offer them. I want something to offer them next time."

Cangene is now searching for former H1N1 patients to donate their plasma. The idea is that antibodies from those who have already recovered from H1N1 can be used to help flu patients.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, said an H1N1 vaccination should roll out by the third week of October to mid-November.

The vaccine is intended to prevent people from getting the virus, while Kumar and Cangene are working to create a treatment for people who are critically ill with the flu.