Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SARS: No evidence that any of the treatments worked

12.09.2006
The SARS virus set alarm bells ringing across the world when it first appeared in 2002, but now a review of the effectiveness of the treatments used against it has found no evidence that any of them worked. The review was commissioned by the World Health Organization and has been published in PLoS Medicine.

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.

Andrew Hyde | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030343
http://www.plos.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>