Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by a virus; the main symptoms are pneumonia and fever. The virus is passed on when people sneeze or cough. In 2003 there were over 8,000 cases and 774 deaths worldwide. The situation was alarming, because the first ever cases only appeared in 2002, in China, and so the best way to treat this new disease was unknown.
Not many drugs are effective against viruses and all doctors can usually do with a viral disease is to treat symptoms like fever and inflammation, and rely on the body's own immune system to fight off the virus. However, in recent years a number of antiviral drugs have been developed (for example, there are several in use against HIV/AIDS) and there was hope that some of them might be active against SARS. Steroids have also been used in SARS treatment to try to reduce the inflammation of the lungs. To find out which, if any, of the potential treatments were effective, a number of research studies were carried out, both during and since the outbreak.
The World Health Organization (WHO) established an International SARS Treatment Study Group, which recommended that a 'systematic review' of potential SARS treatments should be carried out. In particular, it was considered important to bring together all the available evidence on the use of certain antiviral drugs (ribavirin, lopinavir and ritonavir), steroids, and proteins called immunoglobulins which are found naturally in human blood. The WHO group wanted to know how these treatments affected the virus outside the body ('in vitro') and whether it helped the condition of patients and reduced the death rate, especially in those patients who developed a dangerous complication called acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Researchers conducted a comprehensive search for information from research studies that fitted carefully pre-defined selection criteria. They found 54 SARS treatment studies, 15 in- vitro studies, and three acute respiratory distress syndrome studies. Some of the in-vitro studies with the antiviral drugs found that a particular drug reduced the reproduction rate of the viruses, but most of the studies of these drugs in patients were inconclusive. Of 29 studies on steroid use, 25 were inconclusive and four found that the treatment caused possible harm.
From the published studies, it is not possible to say whether any of the treatments used against SARS were effective. It is now many months since any new cases have been reported, but it is possible that the same or a similar virus might cause outbreaks in the future. It is disappointing that none of the research on SARS so far is likely to be useful in helping to decide on the best treatments to use in such an outbreak. The authors examined the weaknesses of the studies they found and urge that more effective methods of research should be applied in any future outbreaks. Their recommendations mean that researchers should be better prepared to learn from potential future outbreaks.
Citation: Stockman LJ, Bellamy R, Garner P (2006) SARS: Systematic review of treatment effects. PLoS Med 3(9): e343.
Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences
15.12.2017 | Life Sciences