Skepticism, Medicine and Science News

Possible Treatment for SARS

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS coronavirus. Most people know about the disease from the 2003-2004 outbreak in southeast Asia that ultimately caused 774 deaths, and nearly a continental/global pandemic. The disease starts with flu-like symptoms, and ultimately culminates in a severe pneumonia that causes respiratory failure and death in 10%. 

There was no real treatment for SARS when the outbreak happened, so most patients were only given antipyretics to reduce fever and mechanical ventilation if needed. Recently though, scientists have developed a molecule that they believe will prove effective in treating SARS. The research was a collaborative effort between Purdue University and the University of Illinois, led by Arun Ghosh and Andrew Mesecar respectively. Together they developed a molecule that effectively blocks the virus’s use of the protein papain-like protease, or PLpro. This protein is instrumental in the virus’s ability to replicate and evade the host immune system, and the new molecule is the first ever discovered that functions as an inhibitor of this class of proteases. The researchers believe their findings also will help find treatments for other diseases where these proteins are involved. 

So far the molecule has only been tested in a lab, but the initial results seem promising. Even though SARS does not really seem like a major threat today, there is always a possibility that it might return someday, and having a treatment is always a good thing. 

Picture of the SARS coronavirus


November 13, 2008 - Posted by | Medicine | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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