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The New Experimental Antiviral Drug Test on Monkeys

The scientists are infecting the laboratory monkeys with a lethal strain of coronavirus for the purpose of testing an experimental antiviral drug. The research team at the United States National Institutes of Health has tested this experimental drug against viral infections on 18 rhesus macaques. 

For the first time, this experimental antiviral drug was developed against Ebola. The team of researchers infected all the laboratory monkeys with MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus). 

The outbreak of this deadly strain of coronavirus has affected nearly 80,000 individuals and led to a death toll of almost 2,600. The research team has analyzed the outcomes in laboratory monkeys after they received the experimental antiviral drug – redeliver.

The results indicated that signs of MERS disease (infection caused by MERS-CoV) were present in all the monkeys that didn’t receive redeliver. The experts in this field observed that signs of this infection were present in six control monkeys. These signs involved an increased rate of respiration, ruffled fur, and decreased appetite.

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Besides this, another finding of this study suggests that any sort of symptoms regarding respiratory disease were absent in the six monkeys who received redeliver 24 hours before getting infected with this deadly MERS-CoV

On the contrary, the signs of disease were present in the lab monkeys that were given this experimental antiviral drug almost 12 hours after scientists infected them with this lethal virus. But still, the signs of disease, in this case, were much less than that of the control group. The viral content in the lungs decreases with a decrease in disease severity. 

The scientists expect that this drug would also be effective in tackling SARS-CoV-2, because of its structural resemblance with MERS-CoV. The cases of this deadly virus have extended from China to 30 other countries. This deadly virus (COVID-19) has infected above 20,000 patients, whereas, the death toll has reached 2,600.

In 2020, MERS-CoV was reported in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Its symptoms involve diarrhea, cough, and fever. But the cases weren’t limited to countries like UK, USA, and UAE. According to a statement given by the researchers at the National Institute of health, MERS-CoV has resemblance with 2019-nCoV.

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In the past, this new experimental antiviral drug – Remdesivir was being used for providing protection to the laboratory animals against different viruses used in lab experiments. In this recent experimental trial, this new drug has been found to be effective in the treatment of Ebola and Nipah viruses. 

Originally, this plant-related drug was freely available for its testing. And at least two trials of the drug,  that was developed for Ebola treatment, are known to be enough. These motivating results of the study have been presented in a prestigious medical journal, that is also known as The New England Journal of Medicine.

In laboratories, the monkeys were being used as lab animals for the treatment of test vaccines and drugs, and are preferred because of their resemblance with the chimpanzee. The study also suggests that Remdesivir performs its antiviral function and block proteins.