Old malaria drug can stop two deadly viruses

Two related viruses that have made the fatal leap from animals to humans are vulnerable to an anti-malarial drug developed more than 50 years ago. And the same research breakthrough was made almost simultaneously by two teams working separately.

The scientists were looking for a therapy that could stop the Nipah and Hendra viruses. Nipah has killed more than 100 people in India and Bangladesh in the past eight years. The death rate on each small outbreak has been more than 50 percent.

But researchers at Cornell and in France say that the antimalarial chloroquine can stop both viruses from reproducing. They also report that the therapy, which has a long track record for safety, can achieve high efficacy even when delivered in small doses. And the researchers say that they will test their theory in humans during the next reported outbreak.

- read the report in the New York Times