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    Russia may produce bird flu antidote in early 2006

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    MOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti) - There are plans to start producing a substance that can kill the bird flu virus in Russia in early 2006, the president of the company Microcellular Technology said at a news conference Thursday.

    "Microcellular Technology experts, in cooperation with Russia's leading laboratories and research institutes, are confirming that the medicine is effective and its production will start in late January 2006," Pavel Ishchenko said.

    Researchers stress that the substance is not a vaccine.

    "We have developed a brand new disinfectant made of natural ingredients that can kill the virus in the air, in the water and on any surface," Ishchenko said.

    In November the virus affected several Russian districts, including the Altai Territory in Siberia and the Astrakhan Region in southern Russia. In December, the Ukrainian autonomy of the Crimea reported bird flu cases similar to the strains believed to have caused outbreaks in Japan, China and Russia's Far East.

    The researchers say the disinfectant is harmless to animals, people and the environment, however, Microcellular Technology experts are set to test it at Russian fowl farms.

    "We may start the tests by year's end," Ishchenko said.

    The company is now preparing a package of documents to patent the substance.

    "Hopefully, we will have the drug registered in early 2006," Ishchenko said.

    The substance has yet to be named and Ishchenko could not say how much the substance would cost.

    "[The price will] be medium range, or possibly higher," he said.

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