Antiviral treatment of severe non-influenza respiratory virus infection

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Non-influenza respiratory virus infections are a frequent cause of severe acute respiratory infections, especially in infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. We review here the current treatment options for non-influenza respiratory viruses and promising candidate antiviral agents currently in development.

Recent findings

Small molecule antiviral agents active against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), such as ALS-8176 and GS-5806, show considerable promise in challenge studies and are undergoing late-phase clinical trials in hospitalised adults and children. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) active against non-influenza respiratory viruses are broadly at a preclinical stage. Broad-spectrum antivirals, such as favipiravir and nitrazoxanide, have potential utility in treating illness caused by non-influenza respiratory viruses but further definitive clinical trials are needed.

Summary

Severe non-influenza respiratory virus infection is common and current treatment is largely supportive. Ribavirin is used in immunocompromised patients but its use is limited by toxicity and the evidence for its efficacy is weak. Effective antiviral treatment for RSV may shortly become available, pending the results of ongoing clinical trials. For other non-influenza viruses, effective treatments may become available in the medium term. Early detection of respiratory viruses with rapid molecular test platforms will be crucial in differentiating virus types and directing the prompt initiation of novel treatments when available.

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