Few who have suffered from influenza need to be reminded of the misery it can inflict. Recent outbreaks in Hong Kong serve as a strong reminder that influenza is a costly and often fatal disease. In December, an outbreak of a deadly strain of avian influenza in Hong Kong caused the government there to mandate the slaughter of more than 1.5 million chickens. As of January, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers have identified 16 confirmed cases of the avian flu in humans. Five of the 16 patients have died.

Building on years of research and development, small biotechnology companies are leading the drive against influenza as they improve old and create new weapons for the treatment and prevention of the disease. Some companies have developed novel compounds that prevent the virus from uncoating and infecting host cells, while others have developed adjuvants and delivery systems that greatly...

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