Aug. 30, 2006 Researchers report progress toward development of a drug to treat measles, which remains one of the world's most devastating infectious diseases despite availability of a vaccine to prevent it.
The World Health Organization estimates that measles still kills about 500,000 people each year. Most of the deaths involve children and take place in developing countries, where vaccine is not universally available. Regional measles outbreaks also occur regularly in large parts of the developed world, partially due to reduced vaccination coverage because of parental concerns about vaccine safety.
In a report scheduled for publication in the Aug. 24 issue of the ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the research teams of James P. Snyder and Richard K. Plemper of Emory University suggest that a cost-effective measles drug could augment the vaccine and reduce morbidity and mortality associated with this highly infectious disease.
The researchers describe the design, synthesis and early laboratory testing in cell cultures of several compounds that interfere with the measles virus entry into cells and which may be effective when taken by mouth.
To date, no drug is available for the treatment of measles and the control of local outbreaks. One of the new compounds appears especially promising, and the scientists are moving ahead with research to improve its potency.
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