Virologists from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) in Belgium report that chloroquine, a widely used antimalarial drug, exhibits antiviral activity against the SARS coronavirus. Chloroquine is an inexpensive and safe drug available worldwide.
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is a respiratory illness which was first recognized in the winter of 2002 in China. By the end of June, 2003, the disease had affected over 8096 persons in 30 countries across five continents, causing 774 fatalities. Scientists discovered that SARS was caused by a virus belonging to the coronavirus family.
There is currently no effective and proven antiviral treatment for SARS. Standard antivirals (such as ribavirin) do not appear to alter the ultimate outcome of the disease. Recently, antiviral drugs commonly used to treat AIDS (nelfinavir, lopinavir/ritonavir) were shown to inhibit the SARS virus in the laboratory. However, these drugs are very expensive and have many side effects.
Marc Van Ranst | alfa
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