A cure for one of & # 39; the world's deadliest viruses? Experimental drug protects four monkeys against deadly dose of Nipah that kills up to 75% of those who catch it
- Four monkeys infected with the Nipah virus survived after getting remdesivir
- But four infected monkeys who were not treated with the drug died within eight days
- Nipah virus is one of the priority pathogens of the World Health Organization
One of & # 39; the world's deadliest viruses can be completely stopped on its tracks by an experimental drug, scientists claim.
Four monkeys infected with a lethal dose of Nipah virus survived after an intravenous injection of remdesivir.
Four green monkeys infected with the deadly virus but not treated with the drug died within eight days.
Four monkeys infected with a lethal dose of Nipah virus survived after an intravenous injection of remdesivir
Nipah virus is listed as one of the priority pathogens of the World Health Organization, which means that something urgently needs to be done.
The virus, mainly transmitted by fruit bats but also spread between humans, is considered deadly in about 75 percent of the cases.
There is currently no vaccine or cure. In severe cases, it can cause acute respiratory disease and fatal encephalitis.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, a branch of the US Department of Health, tested remdesivir on eight green monkeys.
All were infected with the killer virus, which was first identified in Malaysia in 1999 during a fatal outbreak among pig farmers.
But only half of the monkeys received the drug, which is currently being tested against Ebola during an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
WHAT IS THE NIPAH VIRUS?
The Nipah virus (NiV) is a type of henipavirus, which is naturally kept in fruit bats.
The virus can cause diseases in pigs and humans and can be transmitted to humans by animals, contaminated food and other people with the virus.
Symptoms may appear between five and fourteen days after infection and may last up to two weeks.
They include: fever, headache, sleepiness, disorientation, and mental confusion.
The symptoms can go into a coma and some patients have breathing problems.
The virus is considered fatal in about 75 percent of the cases.
There is no vaccine or cure, but patients can receive supportive treatment to relieve symptoms.
Nipah virus infection can be prevented by preventing exposure to sick pigs and bats in endemic areas and not drinking juice from the raw date palm.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
They received remdesivir intravenously within 24 hours of infection, followed by a daily dose for 12 consecutive days.
Virologists led by Dr. Emmie de Wit followed all monkeys for three months and took samples at regular intervals.
Two of the green monkeys receiving the drug did not show any signs of illness during the course of the study.
The other two, however, developed mild respiratory diseases – symptoms of the virus – that disappeared within three weeks.
All four untreated monkeys did so within eight days of being infected with the Nipah virus, after seeing symptoms of disease from the fourth day.
The research on remdesivir, the second experimental Nipah virus treatment, was published in the journal Science Translation Medicine.
The only other weapon that scientists have in their arsenal against Nipah is a monoclonal antibody that was tested during an outbreak in India last year.
About 21 deaths and 23 cases were recorded during the outbreak in Kerala, in the southwest of the nation, last May.
Dr. de Wit and his colleagues are now planning to test whether remdesivir will work on patients who have been infected for more than 24 hours.
He told me New York Times: & # 39; The average person who reaches a hospital dies within two days, so it is hard to protect them once they are infected. & # 39;
Remdesivir, also called SC-5734, is made by Gilead sciences, a pharmaceutical giant from California.
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