Promising approaches for the treatment and prevention of viral respiratory illnesses

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Viral respiratory tract infections are the most common human ailments, leading to enormous health and economic burden. Hundreds of viral species and subtypes have been associated with these conditions, with influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, and rhinoviruses being the most frequent and with the highest burden. When considering prevention or treatment of viral respiratory tract infections, potential targets include the causative pathogens themselves but also the immune response, disease transmission, or even just the symptoms. Strategies targeting all these aspects are developing concurrently, and several novel and promising approaches are emerging. In this perspective we overview the entire range of options and highlight some of the most promising approaches, including new antiviral agents, symptomatic or immunomodulatory drugs, the re-emergence of natural remedies, and vaccines and public health policies toward prevention. Wide-scale prevention through immunization appears to be within reach for respiratory syncytial virus and promising for influenza virus, whereas additional effort is needed in regard to rhinovirus, as well as other respiratory tract viruses.

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