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Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: MERS-CoV treatment effective in monkeys

Date:
September 8, 2013
Source:
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Summary:
Scientists report that a combination of two licensed antiviral drugs reduces virus replication and improves clinical outcome in a recently developed monkey model of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection. Their study expands on recent work showing that a combination of ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b stops MERS-CoV from replicating in cell culture.

Electron microscope image of MIddle East Respiratory Syndrome virus particles, colorized in yellow.
Credit: NIAID

National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists report that a combination of two licensed antiviral drugs reduces virus replication and improves clinical outcome in a recently developed monkey model of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection.

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Their study, which appears as a letter in the Sept. 8 edition of Nature Medicine, expands on work published in April showing that a combination of ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b stops MERS-CoV from replicating in cell culture. Both antivirals are routinely used together to treat viral diseases such as hepatitis C.

In the latest study, investigators at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) infected six rhesus macaques with MERS-CoV and, eight hours later, treated half of them with the two-drug regimen. Compared to the untreated animals, the treatment group showed no breathing difficulties and only minimal X-ray evidence of pneumonia. The treated animals also had lower amounts of virus and less severe tissue damage in the lungs.

As of Aug. 30, 2013, the World Health Organization has reported 108 human cases of MERS-CoV infection, including 50 deaths. Given the current lack of treatment options, the authors of this study conclude that combined ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b therapy should be considered as an early intervention.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Darryl Falzarano, Emmie de Wit, Angela L Rasmussen, Friederike Feldmann, Atsushi Okumura, Dana P Scott, Doug Brining, Trenton Bushmaker, Cynthia Martellaro, Laura Baseler, Arndt G Benecke, Michael G Katze, Vincent J Munster, Heinz Feldmann. Treatment with interferon-α2b and ribavirin improves outcome in MERS-CoV–infected rhesus macaques. Nature Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nm.3362
  2. Darryl Falzarano, Emmie de Wit, Cynthia Martellaro, Julie Callison, Vincent J. Munster, Heinz Feldmann. Inhibition of novel β coronavirus replication by a combination of interferon-α2b and ribavirin. Scientific Reports, 2013; 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep01686
  3. Vincent J. Munster, Emmie de Wit, Heinz Feldmann. Pneumonia from Human Coronavirus in a Macaque Model. New England Journal of Medicine, 2013; 368 (16): 1560 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1215691

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: MERS-CoV treatment effective in monkeys." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130908135754.htm>.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. (2013, September 8). Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: MERS-CoV treatment effective in monkeys. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130908135754.htm
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: MERS-CoV treatment effective in monkeys." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130908135754.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

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