Ebola cure suppressed coronavirus infection in macaque lungs

U.S. scientists have protected rhesus monkeys from severe coronavirus infections using remdesivir, an antiviral drug designed to fight Ebola. A description of the results of their experiments was published in the bioRxiv electronic library.

“Remdesivir was the first antiviral drug to be tested on SARS-CoV-2 in animal studies. He very effectively acted on sick macaques. However, it should be borne in mind that we introduced the drug immediately after the virus reached the peak of reproduction. Therefore, when treating people, remdesivir should be started to be used as early as possible, ”the researchers write.

The first experiments on the infection of animals with a new type of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) were carried out by specialists from the National Institute for the Control and Prevention of the Spread of Viral Diseases in Beijing, China, in mid-February 2020. These experiments confirmed that the virus can invade animals and cause them symptoms similar to how coronavirus infection in humans.

Later, similar experiments on rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were conducted by their colleagues from the United States. They showed that SARS-CoV-2 primates entering the body cause the same symptoms as humans. Thanks to this, representatives of this species can be used as model animals to test vaccines and study the properties of the virus.

Specialists from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Allergies in Bethesda (USA) used the drug remdesivir – one of the antiviral drugs that was created to combat Ebola and Marburg fevers. Presumably, remdesivir helps to actively fight a new type of coronavirus.

During their experiments, biologists infected a dozen rhesus monkeys with large doses of the virus. After this, the animals were divided into two groups, one of which received regular injections of an antiviral drug, and the other received normal saline. Biologists constantly monitored the condition of the monkeys, noting how the infection developed in their body.

Observations showed that remdesivir began to have beneficial effects on the health of primates almost immediately after it was introduced into the body. He suppressed the reproduction of SARS-CoV-2 and reduced the severity of the clinical symptoms of coronavirus infection. In particular, in the early days of the disease in the lungs of the primates that received this drug, there were less damage, and the number of viral particles in their lower part was about 100 times lower than in animals from the control group.

Three days later, the researchers noted, all traces of the virus disappeared from the lower part of the lungs of the macaques receiving the medicine. In the second group of monkeys, this happened only in 30% of cases. However, SARS-CoV-2 did not disappear from the upper respiratory tract, nasopharynx, and other parts of the body, although the concentration of viral particles in macaques treated with remdesivir was somewhat lower.

On the other hand, the drug prevented the appearance of severe forms of pneumonia. Traces of lesions typical of coronavirus infection appeared in the lungs of only one individual receiving the drug, while in the control group they appeared in all six monkeys.

All this, according to scientists, suggests that remdesivir and its analogues can be used to combat coronavirus and save the lives of the most seriously ill patients of SARS-CoV-2. Of course, after full clinical trials in humans.

It should be added that the article was not reviewed by independent experts and editors of scientific journals, as is usually the case in such cases. Therefore, conclusions from it and similar articles should be treated with caution.

Now in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, about 2.07 million cases of infection with a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), about 137 thousand infected have died, about 518 thousand people have recovered.

At least 70 coronavirus vaccines are under development.

By Cindy
In Other
April 17, 2020

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