A breakthrough has been announced in the treatment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which resulted in 774 worldwide deaths (mostly in Asia) in 2002.
The discovery was the result of work done by a team of experts working in China’s Guangdong Province. The lead researchers were: Zhong Nanshan, China’s leading SAR’s expert; Li Baojian, a respected biologist; and Lu Yang, an expert on biological medicine.
After two years of extensive investigations into the disease, the scientists announced that fragments of genetic material, called interfering RNA, were proven to be successful in treating the illness. By slicing specific genes, the small fragments known as siRNA, appear to reduce an existing infection in monkeys and aid in the prevention of new ones.
Scientists conducted the tests with 20 monkeys in five groups. All the monkeys were infected with the SARS virus and some of them were treated with siRNA.
All the infected animals showed symptoms of the virus, but those with siRNA treatment suffered from less lung damage and had less severe symptoms overall.
Scientists project that this research may have implications for the study of other serious viruses and diseases including AIDS, hepatitis, and tumors.