THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Measles antiviral could protect infected people from getting sick, prevent spreading

An international team of researchers reported on Wednesday that a novel antiviral drug - ERDRP-0519 - could protect people infected with measles from getting sick and from spreading the virus to others.

The drug, developed by scientists from the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, the Emory Institute for Drug Development and the Paul-Ehrlich Institute in Germany, was tested in animals infected with a virus that is closely related to the one that causes the measles.

Virus levels were significantly reduced in infected animals that received the drug by mouth, according to a report in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The drug also prevented the animals from dying of the disease.

"The emergence of strong antiviral immunity in treated animals is particularly encouraging, since it suggests that the drug may not only save an infected individual from disease but contribute to closing measles immunity gaps in a population," Dr. Richard Plemper of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, who developed the drug with colleagues at the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery, said.

The drug can reportedly be produced cost-effectively, can be stockpiled and is administered by mouth. Additionally, it could boost eradication efforts through the rapid suppression of the speed of the virus during local outbreaks.

Annual measles death have remained constant at approximately 150,000 since 2007, but a resurgence of the virus has been reported in European countries in which it was previously considered controlled.