By Lacy Langley
As Mersa Virus infections continue to pile up at an alarming rate,
especially in Saudi Arabia, new research is gaining ground the idea that
a combination of existing drugs may help some patients infected with
the new MERS coronavirus. Currently, there is no vaccine to help prevent
the coronavirus and no drug specifically to treat and lessen damage
caused by it in severe cases.
The new research into the drug combo shows it helps reduce the
severity of disease in macaque monkeys deliberately infected with MERS.
Macaques given ribavirin and interferon alpha 2b after having been
infected with the MERS coronavirus were less sick than infected animals
that weren’t given the therapy. While the regimen was previously tested
in kidney cells from monkeys, these findings are the first showing what
happens when the drugs are used in living animals.Also, follow-up
autopsies of the treated and untreated animals showed lower levels of
virus in tissues and less lung damage in the treated animals.
“Everything fit together towards suggesting that treatment definitely
helps lead to a better outcome than the absence of treatment,” said
Darryl Falzarano, a Canadian scientist who is the lead author of the
study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Medicine.Falzarano is
currently a visiting fellow at U.S. National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont,
where the study is being conducted.