New Possible Oral Medication for Measles

New Possible Oral Medication for Measles

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Apr 10, 2014, at 9:50 pm


MEASLES IS HIGHLY INFECTIOUS DISEASE that, like the flu, can be spread through the air in droplets from sneezes, coughs, and breathing. If exposed to it but unvaccinated, a person has a 90% chance of contracting it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, researchers are seeing hope in a new drug for fighting the illness among the unvaccinated. This drug is an oral medication and has shown some success in preventing diseases similar to measles in ferrets.

According to Pritish Tosh, an infectious disease physician and researcher at Mayo Clinic who was not involved in this study, a “phenomenal first step forward” had taken place with this study. A small group of ferrets was exposed to a close cousin of measles called the canine distemper virus. They were treated with a new antiviral medicine and three days later, researchers found that the disease had been completely subdued. Also, the ferrets developed protective antibodies against the virus too. More research will be done on this discovered immunity and how long it will last.

Study author Richard Plemper of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University says they strongly support the vaccination, and “This drug was not developed as an alternative to vaccination but rather as an additional weapon in our arsenal against the virus that may enable us to improve disease management and rapidly silence outbreaks”. They hope that a remedial drug can given to unvaccinated populations if outbreaks occur. Already, 125 cases of measles have been reported across 13 states in 2014 alone.

Usually, symptoms aren’t developed for another two weeks after someone is exposed to measles. But in those two weeks, the virus is replicating in the body, and, ideally, this is when the medication would be used. Instead of being structured like a vaccine, it acts as an inhibitor that blocks the RNA polymerase in the virus that would assist in the replication. But, researchers are going to perform studies with monkeys before human clinical trials. Correspondingly, Plemper and his team believe this drug could have additional purposes, including treating other morbilliviruses in animals.

Nevertheless, a potential disadvantage has been identified with this drug. A resistant “superbug” of measles could be instigated by administering the drug. Plemper and his team looked into this slight issue by creating a couple drug-resistant forms of measles and infecting lab animals. Most of the strains caused only mild versions of measles except for one. This one killed those infected, but at a much slower rate than the original virus, due to slower spreading among the animals. According to Plemper, this strain would probably be “clinically insignificant”. Also, the cost of the medication has not been calculated yet.

To read the full article, please visit Scientific American

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

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