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Smallpox Drug May Protect Against Common Cold

It reduced ability of adenovirus to replicate in key organs

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TUESDAY, May 20, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- An investigational smallpox drug may also protect against adenovirus, which causes upper respiratory infections and is one of the many viruses that causes the common cold.

Currently, there are no drugs specifically approved to treat adenovirus. In part, this is because there have been no animal models in which to test new drugs, something that needs to be done before new drugs can be tested in humans.

Saint Louis University researchers and colleagues report two important advances. They identified an animal model (Syrian golden hamsters) suitable for adenovirus testing and a drug that successfully attacks adenovirus in the hamsters.

The drug -- hexadecyloxypropyl-cidofovir (CMX001) -- is currently being developed to protect against smallpox or monkeypox, and as an antiviral agent in transplant patients.

The Saint Louis University team found that CMX001 protected the hamsters against adenovirus when the drug was given both before infection with the virus and after infection. The drug worked by greatly reducing the ability of the virus to replicate in key organs, especially the liver.

The study was published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is exciting news and a major step forward in finding a drug to treat adenovirus infections in humans," lead author William Wold, chairman of the department of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.

CMX001 is an oral derivative of cidofovir, a drug developed to treat a type of retinitis in AIDS patients. Cidofovir is quite toxic to the liver and kidneys and is not available in oral form, which limits its potential as a treatment for viral infections.

In this study with hamsters, the researchers found that CMX001 was much less toxic and far more powerful than cidovovir.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about adenovirus.

SOURCE: Saint Louis University, news release, May 19, 2008


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