Favipiravir shows positive results as Lassa virus treatment in animal models
In the study, subject guinea pigs were exposed to lethal amounts of the Lassa virus and were treated in separate groups with a low dose of favipiravir, an Ebola treatment candidate; a high dose of favipiravir; or ribavarin, a treatment for hepatitis C that has seen limited success in treating Lassa fever cases.
The group that received the high dosage fared better against the disease and were fully protected against it. Those that had received ribavarin appeared normal until treatment stopped after a two-week period, at which time the group members became seriously ill.
The group that received a low dose of favipiravir showed mild symptoms that resolved after approximately one week of treatment.
Currently, there is no approved treatment or vaccine specific to Lassa fever, an endemic disease in West Africa that affects approximately 300,000 people on an annual basis resulting in an average of 5,000 fatalities.
Further testing and human clinical trials will be necessary to determine favipiravir’s efficacy against the Lassa virus.