Old Drug May Offer New Hope in Treating SARS
Cinanserin, a drug that underwent preliminary clinical testing on humans in the 1960's, may inhibit the SARS virus say researchers from Europe and China. Their findings appear in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Virology.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged as a highly infectious respiratory disease in 2002 and reached epidemic levels within six months. An estimated 8,096 cases were reported resulting in 774 deaths throughout 29 countries. Although the causative agent was quickly identified as a new strain of the coronavirus, an effective method of treatment has yet to be determined.
In the study researchers scanned a database of 8,000 existing drugs for those that would likely bind to the 3C-like proteinase of SARS. Cinanserin, a well-characterized serotonin antagonist, scored high in the screening and was selected for further experimentation. The antiviral activity of cinanserin was evaluated in tissue samples containing the SARS virus and revealed a strong inhibition of coronavirus replication at nontoxic drug concentrations.
"These findings demonstrate that the old drug cinanserin is an inhibitor of SARS-CoV replication, acting most likely via inhibition of the 3CL proteinase," say the researchers.
(L. Chen, C. Gui, X. Luo, Q. Yang, S. Gunther, E. Scandella, C. Drosten, D. Bai, X. He, B. Ludewig, J. Chen, H. Luo, Y. Yang, Y. Yang, J. Zou, V. Thiel, K. Chen, J. Shen, X. Shen, H. Jiang. 2005. Cinanserin is an inhibitor of the 3C-like proteinase of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and strongly reduces virus replication in vitro. Journal of Virology, 79. 11: 7095-7103.)
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