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Pill could end the terror of smallpox
The Times (UK) ^ | March 20, 2002 | Mark Henderson, Science Correspondent

Posted on 03/19/2002 6:47:35 PM PST by aculeus

A POWERFUL drug that blocks the action of the smallpox virus in animals has been developed for the first time, paving the way for new treatments for humans that could be taken in pill form.

Although smallpox was eradicated in 1977 by a worldwide vaccination programme, no antiviral drug has ever been proven to halt the disease once it has been contracted, raising fears that it could be used as a biological weapon.

One drug normally used to treat Aids patients, cidofovir, has a limited effect against smallpox-like diseases in monkeys but it is not readily absorbed by human cells and must be injected intravenously. This would make it unsuitable for mass treatment in the event of a terrorist attack using smallpox.

New research, however, has now disclosed that a derivative of cidofovir, known as HDP-CDV, is 100 times more potent than its parent drug, making it the best candidate yet for the oral drug that would protect populations against smallpox bioterrorism.

Experiments at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) have shown that HDP-CDV stops the action of the variola virus — which causes smallpox and related diseases — in mice and human tissue cultures. The drug prevented the death of mice infected with cowpox, a disease normally fatal to the rodents, when the animals were given five daily oral doses.

Further animal testing and human safety trials will be needed before it can be considered a viable treatment for smallpox but the early results have convinced researchers they are on to the most promising therapy yet identified.

“Until now, the eradication and control of smallpox relied upon vaccination,” Karl Hostetler, professor of medicine at UCSD, who led the study, said. “The results suggest that antiviral drugs given orally in a regimen consisting of as few as five doses might be used to treat and contain a future outbreak of smallpox.”

Details of the research will be presented today at the International Conference on Antiviral Research in Prague, Czech Republic. The results are also being evaluated by the US Army, which helped to fund the work.

The world’s stocks of variola virus, one held in the US and one in Russia, were saved from destruction last year because of fears about bioterrorism and the lack of a remedy.

It should be impossible for terrorists or rogue states to acquire smallpox, as the laboratories are secure, but it is feared that samples from the Soviet bioweapons programme may have fallen into the hands of states such as Iraq.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: biowarfare; smallpoxlist

1 posted on 03/19/2002 6:47:35 PM PST by aculeus
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To: *Bio_Warfare;backhoe
2 posted on 03/19/2002 6:52:58 PM PST by Free the USA
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To: aculeus
The best way to deal with it is vaccination.
3 posted on 03/19/2002 6:59:35 PM PST by tallhappy
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To: tallhappy
I personally do not believe an attack will occur using smallpox.

It will most likely be a radioactive dirty bomb, small nuke, major water supply contamination and/or a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure.


4 posted on 03/19/2002 7:13:29 PM PST by
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To: aculeus
Although smallpox was eradicated in 1977...

The big lie, smallpox was weaponized in 1977 if not before. Big Brother is not your friend. Sleep tight, don't let the politicians bite.

5 posted on 03/19/2002 7:40:18 PM PST by UnBlinkingEye
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To: UnBlinkingEye
The last documented case of naturally occuring smallpox was in Somalia in 1977. That's not a lie.

Even if the cultures still alive (freeze dried) in the U.S. and Russia had been destroyed, someone could have resurrected it from the genetic code which was sequenced around 1990.

There will be plagues at the end of the world, and the AntiChrist. When it comes to Big Brother, you ain't seen nothin' yet, and I hope you never do. Hope you're in the Rapture or die painlessly in bed at an old age.

6 posted on 03/19/2002 8:20:40 PM PST by patriciaruth
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To: aculeus
This is the "up side" to the disproportionate amount of money spent on AIDS research. That research will likey lead to more anti-viral agents such as this. Such drugs could cure diseases from the common cold on up.
7 posted on 03/19/2002 8:37:49 PM PST by Redcloak
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To: tallhappy
The best way to deal with it is vaccination

My memory of a small pox vaccination is that some people got ill for a day or two and a unfortuneate few developed extremely serious side effects. I think a few even died.

8 posted on 03/19/2002 9:39:11 PM PST by staytrue
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To: *Smallpox List
9 posted on 03/20/2002 1:49:25 AM PST by Lion's Cub
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To: Redcloak
I would be more interested to hear if the antiviral effect is broader than just variola.
10 posted on 03/20/2002 4:01:20 AM PST by eno_
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To: staytrue
"I think a few even died."

There was a post on this forum not to far back discussing this point. If I remember correctly, Japan was the last major country using the vaccine. They discovered toward the end that more people were contracting smallpox from the vaccination than those who were contracting it from natural sources and they put and end to their program.

11 posted on 03/20/2002 5:50:33 AM PST by gnarledmaw
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To: Free the USA
I am finally back online- my ISP's been down since last night.

I heard a little of this on the radio just a while ago.

12 posted on 03/20/2002 11:11:42 AM PST by backhoe
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To: backhoe, Physicist
Have you folks come across any information on making so called "clean bombs" that have little long lasting radiation? If I remember correctly Edward Teller mentioned these weapons were creatable but looking around the net today I found many sites that said it was a fiction. Any thoughts on it?
13 posted on 03/21/2002 10:56:59 AM PST by Sawdring
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To: Sawdring
While I don't have a link specific to that, I do recall that nuclear warheads can be made and detonated to produce minimal fallout.... and the opposite is true, too. A cobalt casing will yield extremely long-lasting fallout and local radiation if set off as a ground burst. More general info here:

Nuclear News you *can* use--

14 posted on 03/21/2002 11:30:12 AM PST by backhoe
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To: backhoe
Thanks Backhoe!
15 posted on 03/21/2002 11:32:55 AM PST by Sawdring
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