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MRIGlobal Scientist Co-authors Research that Looks at New Approach To Treating Virus Outbreaks

In Vitro Diagnostics

MRIGlobal virologist Gene Olinger, Ph.D., was among a group of authors in a new study manuscript just accepted for publication in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a scientific journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

The study, Inhibition of Arenaviruses by Combinations of Orally Available Approved Drugs, suggests a new approach to treating arenaviruses, a family of deadly viruses which include Ebola and Lassa, that primarily afflict countries where antiviral drug development is often minimal.

The proof-of-concept study hypothesizes that combinations of already approved drugs developed for other clinical purposes provide significant suppression of arenavirus, and that introducing a cocktail of approved drugs at the inception of new viral outbreaks will reduce viral transmission and save lives.

The research showed that repurposing combinations of orally administered drugs provides effective suppression of arenaviruses by blocking virus entry. “This approach could lead to a proactive strategy with which to prepare for and control known and new arenavirus outbreaks,” said Dr. Olinger.

Currently there are no approved vaccines, therapeutic antibodies or drugs to treat patients infected with an arenavirus. Arenaviruses are capable of causing hemorrhagic fevers and neurological diseases. One member of the arenavirus family, the Lassa virus, is estimated to cause up to 300,000 human infections and 5,000 deaths annually.

“The concept is that once a virus family is identified, there would be a shelf-ready cocktail of approved drugs for immediate use to achieve viral suppression,” said Dr. Olinger. Advantages to this approach include ready availability, relative low cost, room temperature stability, delivery by mouth and utility in non-hospital settings. Using combinations of approved drugs may also result in lower required dosages and reduced risk of adverse effects.

The full manuscript Inhibition of Arenaviruses by Combinations of Orally Available Approved Drugs is available on the ASM website now.