Hong Kong scientists say they have found chemicals that can stop the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, and that their research could lead to drugs to treat the condition. The researchers screened more than 50,000 molecules and found that 104 of them could prevent the virus from replicating.
But before a drug could be developed and licensed, the candidate chemicals would first have to be tested on humans, and the dearth of SARS cases this year means that for now researchers will only be able to do tests on animals. Clinical trials will only be able to proceed if animal tests are positive and new cases of human infection are identified.
In 2003, SARS caught public health officials unprepared when it killed more than 800 people.