Dutch virologist finds possible Sars medicine

23rd February 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 February 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch virologist Ab Osterhaus has discovered that a medicine used to combat other diseases could also be used to fight Sars infections, the virus which caused hundreds of fatalities around in Asia and Canada last year.

23 February 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch virologist Ab Osterhaus has discovered that a medicine used to combat other diseases could also be used to fight Sars infections, the virus which caused hundreds of fatalities around in Asia and Canada last year.

Osterhaus, of the Influenza Centre in Rotterdam, identified the medicine as pegylated interferon alpha, which is used to fight Hepatitis C and various forms of cancer, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

In tests on apes which were infected with Sars, it was observed that the multiplication of the virus cells was drastically reduced after the primates were injected with the drug. The damage to the lungs was also greatly reduced, Osterhaus said.

The tests, carried out in the Erasmus Medical Centre, will be published in March in the international medical trade journal, Nature Medicine.

And despite the fact that the medicine has not yet been tested on human Sars patients, Osterhaus suspects its affects will be the about the same as that observed in ape infections.

"It looks like the virus spreads in ape and in humans in a similar way," he said.

The virologist also said that the drug can offer protection for doctors and nurses who are subjected to constant exposure to the virus during Sars outbreaks.

The Sars virus was confirmed as the cause of almost 800 deaths worldwide in 2003.  It has since resurfaced in China, raising renewed epidemic concerns. Experts also say the re-appearance shows that there might be patterns emerging in its behaviour.

They also said that discovering more about Sars will teach them more about other viruses in the same family, BBC reported. Corona viruses cause respiratory illnesses such as colds and influenza.

But the World Health Organisation (WHO) believes the Sars virus is a new strain which has mutated to become more dangerous to humans.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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