A different antiviral for treating SARS

June 12, 2003

A preliminary study published as a fast-track research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET suggests that the antiviral agent glycyrrhizin could be more effective than other antivirals in the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Ribavirin is the most commonly used antiviral for treating SARS infection, used in combination with anti-inflammatory steroids, although no definitive treatment has been identified for SARS-associated coronavirus infection.

Jindrich Cinatl and colleagues from Frankfurt University Medical School, Germany, assessed the antiviral potential of five drugs-ribavirin, 6-azauridine, pyrazofurin, mycophenolic acid, and glycyrrhizin-against two isolates of the SARS coronavirus from patients with SARS admitted to the clinical centre of Frankfurt University, Germany.

Glycyrrhizin (an antiviral agent with proven efficacy in treating HIV-1 and hepatitis C infection) was the most active antiviral in inhibiting replication of the virus, as a result of increased nitric oxide synthesis. The investigators comment that their findings 'suggest that glycyrrhizin should be assessed for treatment of SARS.'
Contact: Professor Jindrich Cinatl, Institute of Medical Virology, Frankfurt University Medical School, Paul-Ehrlich Str 40, D-60596 Frankfurt, Germany;
T) 49-696-301-6409;
E) cinatl@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Or Professor Prakash Chandra,
T) 49-696-301-6928;
E) chandra@zbc.kgu.de


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