Designer RNA molecules delivered through the nose show early promise for treating West Nile fever, trials in mice show.
No effective therapies exist for the illness caused by a mosquito-borne virus, which can invade the brain. Priti Kumar at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut; Sang Kyung Lee at Hanyang University in Seoul; and their colleagues developed a small RNA molecule that stymies reproduction of the virus. The researchers then attached the RNA to a molecule known to shuttle cargo into neurons.
The team administered the experimental therapy to mice using a nasal spray. In animals with late-stage brain disease, treatment greatly lowered viral concentrations in the brain and increased survival rates compared with untreated animals. Survivors also developed long-term protection against future infection.