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Experimental Drug Protects Animal Model from Measles-Like Virus

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 04 May 2014
Image: Ultrastructural appearance of a single measles virus particle as revealed by thin-section transmission electron microscopy (TEM). It is 100–200 nm in diameter, with a core of single-stranded RNA, and is closely related to the rinderpest and canine distemper viruses (Photo courtesy of the CDC - [US] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Image: Ultrastructural appearance of a single measles virus particle as revealed by thin-section transmission electron microscopy (TEM). It is 100–200 nm in diameter, with a core of single-stranded RNA, and is closely related to the rinderpest and canine distemper viruses (Photo courtesy of the CDC - [US] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Working with an animal model that mimics measles in humans, a team of molecular virologists have verified that a novel antiviral drug may complement the currently used vaccine and lead to eradication of the disease.

To better study the measles virus under laboratory conditions investigators at Georgia State University (Atlanta, USA) and colleagues at Emory University (Atlanta, GA, USA) and the Paul-Ehrlich Institute (Langen, Germany) used zoonotic Canine distemper virus (CDV), which induces a disease in ferrets with 100% lethality.

The investigators used the ferret model to evaluate the experimental drug ERDRP-0519, which targets the viral RNA polymerase. This enzyme is required for replication of the virus, as it catalyzes the synthesis of a complementary strand of RNA from the original viral RNA template.

Results reported in the April 16, 2014, issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine revealed that prophylactic oral drug treatment of the ferrets protected them from a lethal dose of CDV administered intranasally. Ferrets that received the drug after having been infected with the same dose of virus showed low-grade viral loads, remained asymptomatic, and recovered from infection, whereas control animals succumbed to the disease. Animals that had recovered from CDV infection demonstrated a robust immune response and were protected against re-challenge with a lethal CDV dose.

The investigators stated that the drug is not intended as a substitute for vaccination, but as an additional weapon in a concerted effort to eliminate 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," said senior author Dr. Richard Plemper, professor in the center for inflammation, immunity, and infection at Georgia State University.

Related Links:

Georgia State University
Emory University
Paul-Ehrlich Institute



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