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The combination of lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon-beta- 1b shows good results against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

The combination of lopinavir/ritonavir and interferon-beta- 1b shows good results against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was first described in 2012 and attracted a great international attention due to multiple healthcare associated outbreaks. The disease carries a high case fatality rate of 34.5%, and there is no internationally or nationally recommended therapy.

Now the arrival of new SARS-like virus in U.S. heightens concerns about global spread.

Despite multiple studies in humans there is no consensus on the optimal therapy for MERS-CoV.  In order to further enhance the therapeutic aroma for MERS-CoV infection, repurposing old drugs against MERS-CoV is a strategy that is being considered and this is how the use of lopinavir/ritonavir has been evaluated.

Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is the causative agent of a severe respiratory disease associated with more than 2468 human infections and over 851 deaths in 27 countries since 2012. There are no approved treatments for MERS-CoV infection although a combination of lopinavir, ritonavir and interferon beta (LPV/RTV-IFNb) is currently being evaluated in humans in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A recent article from Nature Communications however,  shows that remdesivir (RDV) and IFNb have superior antiviral activity to LPV and RTV in vitro. In mice, both prophylactic and therapeutic RDV improve pulmonary function and reduce lung viral loads and severe lung pathology. In contrast, prophylactic LPV/RTV-IFNb slightly reduces viral loads without impacting other disease parameters. Therapeutic LPV/RTV-IFNb improves pulmonary function but does not reduce virus replication or severe lung pathology.

The combination of lopinavir and ritonavir is already used with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Lopinavir and ritonavir are in a class of medications called protease inhibitors. They work by decreasing the amount of HIV in the blood. When lopinavir and ritonavir are taken together, ritonavir also helps to increase the amount of lopinavir in the body so that the medication will have a greater effect.

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