Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

2 common drugs may help treat deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

11.09.2013
The drugs subdue inflammation, reduce viral replication and promote lung repair

Treatment with two common drugs reduced viral replication and lung damage when given to monkeys infected with the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The condition is deadly pneumonia that has killed more than 100 people, primarily in the Middle East.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, was first reported in Saudi Arabia last year. The infection is caused by a coronavirus, called MERS-CoV, which is closely related to several coronaviruses that infect bats. About half of patients who developed the syndrome have died. Currently, there is no proven effective treatment.

The new findings show that a combination of interferon-alpha 2b and ribavirin, drugs routinely used to treat hepatitis C, may be an effective treatment for MERS-CoV infection, said Dr. Angela L. Rasmussen, a research scientist in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Washington in Seattle and co-author of the study.

"Because these two drugs are readily available, they could be used immediately to treat patients infected with MERS-CoV," Rasmussen said.

The study was conducted by researchers from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, France; the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada; and the University of Washington in Seattle. The results were published online September 8 by the journal Nature Medicine. Darryl Falzarano, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases's Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, Mont., was the paper's lead author.

Instead of directly targeting the virus like most conventional antivirals, these drugs work primarily by moderating the body's immune response to the virus and by promoting repair of damaged lung tissue, said Rasmussen.

Working with the team of scientists in the UW Viromics Lab, led by Dr. Michael Katze, UW professor of microbiology, Rasmussen and her colleagues watched how the lung cells responded to the new treatment by tracking their gene expression profiles.

They did this by studying RNA extracted from the infected monkeys' lungs to track changes in what is called the transcriptome. When a cell needs to use a gene, it copies the gene's DNA-encoded instructions into RNA. That RNA transcript is then read to direct the assembly of a protein. By using a "lab on a chip" technology, called a microarray, it is possible to detect and measure RNA transcripts from all the genes in a population of cells. By analyzing the transcriptome, it is then possible to track how cells or a tissue respond to infection, a drug, or some other stimulus. In this case, it allows researchers to study the host response to MERS-CoV in the context of the entire complex biological system, rather than one gene at a time.

Treatment with interferon-alpha 2b and ribavirin appeared to have several interesting effects. The combination increased the transcription of genes that fight viral infections, for example, and reduced transcription of genes that promote inflammation. Of particular interest to Rasmussen and her colleagues, however, was the finding that treatment increased the transcription of genes that assist in regulating a protein called sonic hedgehog.

The sonic hedgehog protein helps moderate the immune response so that it targets the virus more precisely. This honing in reduces collateral damage from broader, less discriminate attack, and helps stimulate repair and growth of lung tissue.

During infection with many severe respiratory viruses, such as influenza, much of the damage is done, not by the virus, but by the body's uncontrolled immune response to the virus, Rasmussen said.

The findings of this new study suggest that, in the case of MERS-CoV infections, interferon-alpha 3b and ribavirin may work primarily by reducing damaging inflammation of the lung and promoting healing by altering the host response, rather than directly targeting the virus.

If that is the case, other drugs that can similarly modulate the body's reaction to viral infections may also prove to be effective against MERS-CoV and other infectious agents, she said.

Reference: Falzarano et al. Interferon-á2b and ribavirin treatment improves outcome in MERS-CoV-infected rhesus macaques. Nature Medicine DOI: 10.1038/nm.3362 (2013).

Leila Gray | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uw.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>