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Promising treatment for deadly respiratory virus

Staff writer |
An experimental drug shows promise as a treatment for a common and potentially serious illness known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

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Currently, there is no treatment or vaccine for RSV, which can be deadly for infants and the elderly. Kids are nine times more likely to die from this virus than from flu, the investigative team pointed out.

The drug, dubbed ALS-008176 for now, was tested in a group of adults infected with RSV. It reduced the amount of virus and improved their symptoms, the researchers said.

"These results highlight the drug's potential as a safe and effective therapy for managing clinical disease," said Dr. Matthew McClure, of San Francisco-based Alios BioPharma, Inc., the drug's maker.

Whether it will have the same effect in vulnerable children or seniors remains to be seen, however.

RSV causes wintertime epidemics of respiratory illness in U.S. children. It's the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States and a major cause of hospitalization, McClure said.

Approximately 20 percent of infants will have had RSV by age 1, and nearly all will have had the virus by their second year, he said.

The new drug still needs more testing and couldn't be available for several years, the researchers said. It's currently being evaluated in RSV-infected infants, McClure added.

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