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New Measles Drug Shows Promise In Animal Trials

Update Date: Apr 17, 2014 08:58 AM EDT

Researchers have developed a novel antiviral drug that may protect people infected with measles. The drug could also prevent them from spreading to others. 

Researchers said the findings could help bring down disease rates in areas of the world where vaccines are not readily available. 

"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 Dr. Richard Plemper, a researcher at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University and senior author of the study, in a press release. 

The newly developed drug, dubbed ERDRP-0519 shuts down the disease progression by blocking the viral replication of the pathogen. 

"There is typically a two-week window between becoming infected and the onset of symptoms like skin rash, runny nose and fever," the researchers explained. "The anti-viral drug ... is specifically designed to work during this two-week window, when vaccination can no longer protect from disease."

According to a recent survey, measles still causes more than 100,000 deaths annually in some parts of the world. The disease is characterized by fever, cough, rashes and malaise. The disease is so fatal that it has been associated with mortality as high as 10 percent in population.

"It's important to note that the drug is not an alternative or replacement for proper vaccination," the researchers wrote in the press release. "However these results hint that its use could be a way to help eradicate the disease in regions with relatively low vaccination coverage."

Researchers highlighted that the drug was not intended as a substitute for vaccination but should be considered as an additional weapon in a concerted effort to eliminate the measles.

The research has been described in the journal Science Translational Medicine. 

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