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Antibiotic Nitroxoline May Help Fight Mpox Or Monkeypox

Antibiotic Nitroxoline May Help Fight Mpox Or Monkeypox
People with weakened immunity are particularly at risk from mpox.

Nitroxoline has been found effective against the tecovirimat-resistant mpox strain, and other pathogens that are often co-transmitted with mpox viruses.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : March 23, 2023 12:31 PM IST

An international research team of researchers has found a new drug candidate that could potentially be used to treat monkeypox, now known as mpox. They have identified nitroxoline, a well-tolerated antibiotic that is already used to treat humans, as a potential drug to fight the virus that is currently spreading worldwide.

Previous studies have shown that antiviral agents can inhibit the replication of the mpox virus in experimental models. However, their efficacy in humans is not confirmed yet. Moreover, some of these antiviral agents may have significant side effects, plus, there are no sufficient stocks to treat all mpox patients. For example, tecovirimat, which has been touted as the most promising mpox drug candidate to date, is reported to have developed resistance against certain strains of the virus.

In the new study, the scientist team from Goethe University and the University of Kent found nitroxoline effective against a tecovirimat-resistant mpox strain, and other bacterial and viral pathogens that are often co-transmitted with mpox viruses.

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Since Nitroxoline is a well-tolerated antibiotic, it can be tested directly against mpox in clinical trials, the exerts said in a paper published in the Journal of Medical Virology.

Ongoing mpox outbreak

It is the first time a mpox outbreak of this size has occurred outside of Africa and also the first such outbreak resulting from human-to-human transmission. Beginning early May 2022, cases of mpox have been reported from non-endemic countries, as well as in several endemic countries. Surprisingly, many mpox patients with travel history reported travel to countries in Europe and North America, rather than West or Central Africa where the virus is endemic.

The WHO recorded a total of 86 496 confirmed mpox cases, including 111 deaths, from 1 January 2022 through 13 March 2023 from 110 countries. As of 12th March 2023, the number of weekly new cases reported globally has declined by 14 per cent, while the Americas continue to report the majority of cases.

In the current mpox outbreak, all reported deaths (111 deaths reported to WHO) have occurred in adult males, most of whom were reportedly immunocompromised, either due to untreated or uncontrolled HIV Infection or other immunocompromising conditions.

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