National Institute of Health have announced that two commonly used anti-viral drugs have shown promise in slowing replication of the MERS corona virus and improving outcomes in rhesus monkeys.
The 'monkey model', first developed in April, 2013 studied the progression of the disease in rhesus monkeys and allowed researchers to experiment with existing viral treatments. This latest report shows that a combination of ribavirin and interferon-alpha 2b inhibited replication of the virus in cells.
Researchers infected six rhesus macaques with the MERS virus, then eight hours later treated half of them with the drug cocktail. Those who received the anti-viral drugs exhibited no breathing problems and chest x-rays showed less evidence of pneumonia. They showed a lower viral level and suffered less tissue damage to the lungs than the untreated monkeys.
This is hopeful news as the MERS virus has infected approximately one hundred people in the Middle East and Europe and has killed nearly half of those infected. Researchers suggest that this combination of commonly used anti-viral medications could be used as an early intervention and treatment for the disease.