Newly Discovered Antiviral Drug Could Prevent SARS, MERS And Other Coronavirus Infections

First Posted: Jun 30, 2017 03:37 AM EDT

Scientists have discovered a new antiviral drug candidate that could treat and prevent coronavirus infections such as SARS and MERS and other future epidemic outbreaks. This compound is known as GS-5734 and is now in clinical development for treating the Ebola virus disease.

The description of the drug was described in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The work was led by Mark Denison, M.D., Craig-Weaver Professor of Pediatrics and professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and other colleagues. The scientists have long been studying the basic biology of coronaviruses for over 20 years, according to Medical Xpress.

Professor Denison said that this compound shows broad activity against a variety of human and animal coronaviruses. It also represents a potential therapeutic for the family of viruses prone to emergence from animal reservoirs. He added that this is an exciting example of how to pursue basic research to understand the mechanisms of virus replication and pathogenesis that could lead to a significant compound with therapeutic potential.

The antiviral drug is found to inhibit SARS-coronavirus and MERS-coronavirus replication in multiple in vitro systems. This includes the main human airway epithelial cells that are infected by respiratory coronaviruses. The compound is also effective in fighting circulating human coronavirus, bat coronaviruses and bat coronaviruses that are "pre-pandemic" that infect the cultured human cells.

The researchers are still examining and using the compound as a probe to understand the biology of the virus and how and why this drug works. It will also be utilized to determine new targets for preventing the coronaviruses.

Coronaviruses are common viruses that could infect the respiratory tract of mammals including the humans and animals such as rats, pigs, cattle, horses, dogs, cats and turkeys. These viruses are linked to pneumonia, common cold and acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and could also affect the gut or stomach. Treatment of these viruses involves rest, drinking plenty of water and taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to lessen the pain and fever. Avoid smoking and going to smoking areas and use a clean humidifier.

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