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Drug Cocktail That Protects Monkeys From Deadly Virus May Aid Humans

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A combination of two well-known antiviral drugs protects monkeys against MERS and could potentially be used to save humans from the lethal disease, scientists said on Sunday.

Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases gave the drugs, ribavirin and interferon, to half of six rhesus monkeys eight hours after they were infected with the virus, now known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus.

The three that got the two-drug cocktail had less virus in their blood, no breathing difficulties and only minimal X-ray evidence of pneumonia, while the untreated animals became very ill, said the authors of the study published by Nature Medicine.

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