Scientists Infect Monkeys With Coronavirus in Search of a Cure for COVID-19

By John Vibes

While many people around the world have just recently become familiar with the term “coronavirus,” it is a classification that describes a number of different illnesses which range in severity from the common cold, to the newly discovered COVID-19 novel coronavirus that has dominated international headlines over the past month.

Researchers around the world are taking different approaches to develop a possible cure or vaccine for the illness as it continues to quickly spread across the planet.

A controversial approach taken by scientists at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) was detailed in a study published earlier this month in the journal PNAS.

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In the study, 18 rhesus macaque monkeys were intentionally infected with the MERS-CoV coronavirus, also known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome. MERS is one of the most deadly strains of coronavirus, and has been known to lead to pneumonia, fever and even organ failure. However, human-to-human transmission is far less common with the MERS strain than we have seen with the new COVID-19 strain, so it is far less contagious.

Researchers treated the infected monkeys with an experimental vaccine called remdesivir, which has been shown to be effective for multiple different coronavirus strains.

The researchers found that the experimental drug was also effective at treating the monkeys in their study that were infected with MERS. This has led the team to conclude that this drug could be effective at treating the new COVID-19 coronavirus strain.

The conclusion of the study stated that:

Taken together, the data presented here on the efficacy of remdesivir in prophylactic and therapeutic treatment regimens, the difficulty of coronaviruses to acquire resistance to remdesivir , and the availability of human safety data warrant testing of the efficacy of remdesivir treatment in the context of a MERS clinical trial. Our results, together with replication inhibition by remdesivir of a wide range of coronaviruses in vitro and in vivo, may further indicate utility of remdesivir against the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV emerging from Wuhan, China.

The monkeys who took part in the experiment were euthanized shortly after the study was completed.

By John Vibes | Creative Commons |

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