Media ReleaseFrom: PNAS
Researchers report an antiviral therapy that is effective against the MERS-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in monkeys. MERS-CoV has caused nearly 2,500 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome since its discovery in 2012, with fatalities in approximately 35% of cases. The broad-acting antiviral drug remdesivir has been shown to be effective against MERS-CoV in vitro and in mice. Emmie de Wit and colleagues tested the efficacy of remdesivir against MERS-CoV in rhesus macaques. Animals were treated with remdesivir either prophylactically—starting 24 hours before MERS-CoV infection—or therapeutically—starting 12 hours after infection. Prophylactically treated animals exhibited no clinical respiratory signs, dramatically reduced viral replication in lungs, trachea, and bronchi compared with control animals, and were free of lung lesions 6 days after infection. Clinical signs, viral replication, and lung lesions were also reduced in therapeutically treated animals compared with controls, although to a lesser extent than in prophylactically treated animals. The results suggest that remdesivir might be a promising treatment candidate for MERS that warrants further clinical trials. Additionally, remdesivir’s broad antiviral effects may render it useful against other coronaviruses, including the 2019-nCoV currently emerging from China, according to the authors.