CSIRO scientist Dr Jenny McKimm-Breschkin who, with her UK colleague, Dr Andrew Watts, will endeavour to develop an improved flu drug.

Dr Jennifer McKimm-Breschkin.

Dr Jenny McKimm-Breschkin: developing new drugs for virus treatments

This CSIRO researcher works on the influenza virus, and a group of viruses called paramyxoviruses, to find proteins on the virus' surfaces that can be targeted by specially designed new medicines.

  • 13 February 2006 | Updated 5 August 2013

Current activities

Dr Jennifer McKimm-Breschkin is a CSIRO Chief Research Scientist and Project Leader in Virology.

Dr McKimm Breschkin has a particular research interest in influenza and paramyxovirus surface proteins. The paramyxoviruses include:

  • measles
  • respiratory syncytial virus
  • parainfluenza virus
  • a number of others that cause acute respiratory diseases.

In 2003 Dr McKimm-Breschkin tested the ability of Relenza™ to inhibit the virus, known as H5N1 strain, which has killed millions of chickens in Asia and has been responsible for several human deaths this year.

The tests, used to monitor virus sensitivity to drugs, have shown that Relenza™ is as effective, in laboratory experiments, against this bird flu as it is against other strains of flu that affect humans.

This knowledge is very important. Current control measures are to cull the potentially diseased chickens to stop spread, but in the event that the bird flu should mutate and be transmissible from human to human, it will be possible to treat the virus.

Background

After completing a first class honours degree at Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Dr McKimm-Breschkin went to the United States for postgraduate studies and returned to Australia in 1979. 

In 1987 she began working for CSIRO, on the development of Relenza™,  a potent and specific inhibitor of all influenza viruses, now available internationally as a prescription medicine for treatment and prevention of influenza infection.

Dr McKimm-Breschkin provided documentation for pre-clinical resistance studies for drug registration.

Virologist, Dr Jennifer McKimm Breschkin’s research focuses on viruses that include human influenza and bird flu, and other respiratory viruses.

Dr McKimm-Breschkin is a member of the Neuraminidase Inhibitors Susceptibility Network (NISN), an international committee carrying out post-release global surveillance on potential drug resistance.

Academic qualifications

Dr McKimm-Breschkin was awarded a Bachelor of Science with first class honours in Microbiology, from Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in 1974.

She went on to be awarded a doctorate in Microbiology, from Pennsylvania State University, USA, in 1978.

Achievements

Dr McKimm-Breschkin won a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship for 1975-1978 and a Queen Elizabeth II Postdoctoral Fellowship from1979 to1981.

Learn more about Jenny's work in the article Unravelling viral resistance [PDF 2.3MB].

Relenza™ is a trademark of GlaxoSmithKline.