Pre-clinical study findings published in Science Translational Medicine indicate that scientists have developed an experimental oral drug, dubbed ERDRP-0519, that helped protect animals from a measles-like virus, as reported in the Chicago Tribune.
Researcher Richard Plemper said "the emergence of strong antiviral immunity in treated animals is particularly encouraging, since it suggests that the drug may not only save an infected individual from disease, but contribute to closing measles immunity gaps in a population."
The study involved ferrets that were infected with canine distemper virus, which is closely related to measles.
When treated with ERDRP-0519, the ferrets survived the infection and levels of the virus were sharply reduced. Further, all the animals remained disease-free and developed immunity to the virus.
Plemper said it was not possible to test the drug against the measles virus because there is no model that replicates human measles in animals. However, he noted that tests of ERDRP-0519 in tissue cultures showed the measles virus was five times more sensitive to the drug than the canine virus.
He suggested the ideal user of the drug, if it is eventually found effective in humans and introduced to market, would be unvaccinated adolescents who have been exposed to measles and are at greater risk of spreading the virus.