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The World in Medicine
March 17, 2004

Treating SARS

JAMA. 2004;291(11):1313. doi:10.1001/jama.291.11.1313-a

A drug used to treat hepatitis C shows promise as a possible therapy for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), according to a study by scientists in the Netherlands, Japan, and China. The study was published on February 22 in an online edition of Nature Medicine (http://www.nature.com/nm/).

The researchers gave six macaques doses of pegylated interferon α (IFN-α) shortly before infecting them with the SARS coronavirus. Two days later, the throats of the untreated control animals were teeming with virus, while the amount of virus shed from the treated monkeys was drastically reduced—an effect that may curb transmission. Pegylated IFN-α also reduced the severity of lung damage caused by the virus. The drug had similar but less-pronounced effects in four monkeys treated 1 and 3 days after exposure.

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