Hemispherx Biopharma has announced that one of its advanced stage biological products, Alferon(R) N, significantly inhibited the replication of the MERS virus in vitro. Alferon(R) N has previously shown to be active against SARS-CoV, which swept thru China a few years ago.
Over 400 cases of MERS infection, including over 100 deaths, have been reported to date, with more than 200 new cases emerging just last month, including the first in the US diagnosed in a man who recently arrived from Saudi Arabia.
Known officially as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, MERS, which was originally identified in that region, has also claimed its first victims in Southeast Asia killing a Malaysian man who returned from pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia according to WHO. Although he did not contract the disease during the past hajj, infectious disease specialists have been concerned that the illness could spread far afield by the millions of pilgrims who come to the Saudi holy city of Mecca each year for the Muslim pilgrimage. Most of the identified cases have been in Saudi Arabia. However, an increasing numbers are being reported in the Gulf countries. Europe has reported a handful of cases, all with links to the Middle East. About half of the current cases have involved health workers.