JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effect of interferon alpha and cyclosporine treatment separately and in combination on Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) replication in a human in-vitro and ex-vivo culture model

H S Li, Denise I T Kuok, M C Cheung, Mandy M T Ng, K C Ng, Kenrie P Y Hui, J S Malik Peiris, Michael C W Chan, John M Nicholls
Antiviral Research 2018, 155: 89-96
29772254
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has emerged as a coronavirus infection of humans in the past 5 years. Though confined to certain geographical regions of the world, infection has been associated with a case fatality rate of 35%, and this mortality may be higher in ventilated patients. As there are few readily available animal models that accurately mimic human disease, it has been a challenge to ethically determine what optimum treatment strategies can be used for this disease. We used in-vitro and human ex-vivo explant cultures to investigate the effect of two immunomodulatory agents, interferon alpha and cyclosporine, singly and in combination, on MERS-CoV replication. In both culture systems the combined treatment was more effective than either agent used alone in reducing MERS-CoV replication. PCR SuperArray analysis showed that the reduction of virus replication was associated with a greater induction of interferon stimulated genes. As these therapeutic agents are already licensed for clinical use, it may be relevant to investigate their use for therapy of human MERS-CoV infection.

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