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Can an anti-HIV combination or other existing drugs outwit the new coronavirus?
When a frightening new virus emerges in humans, scientists spend many months, if not years, to develop and test a vaccine. Finding new treatments, too, takes a long time, but there is another option: Try existing drugs to see if they have activity against the new virus.
Case - Coronavirus - Researchers - Antivirals - HIV
In the case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), researchers are already trying antivirals widely used to treat HIV, in hopes that they might be able to fight the coronavirus as well. Other, still experimental antivirals—including one that was unsuccessfully tested against Ebola last year—may also hold promise.
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Evidence - Treatment - Authors - Lancet - Paper
There is some evidence that the treatment might work, the authors of the Lancet paper write: A study published in 2004 showed that the combination showed “substantial clinical benefit” when given to patients who had Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is caused by a coronavirus similar to 2019-nCoV.
But that study did not randomize patients to receive the treatment or a placebo, the gold standard for controlled trials. Rather, it compared patients given the two protease inhibitors plus ribavirin, a drug that interferes with viral replication, with SARS patients who earlier received ribavirin alone. The researchers saw an “apparent improved outcome” in the former group, which they said argued for setting up a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. But no SARS cases have been reported since 2004, and the trial never took place.
Protease - Inhibitors - Coronavirus - Saudi - Arabia
Protease inhibitors are also being tested against a third coronavirus. Saudi Arabia currently has a carefully designed study underway in which patients with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) receive either the lopinavir/ritonavir combination plus interferon beta-1b, which boosts immune responses by unclear mechanisms, or a placebo. MERS is more distant on the family tree of coronaviruses from 2019-nCoV...
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