Medicine to treat norovirus in the works

By Jodi Mohrmann, Managing editor of special projects, jmohrmann@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 12 2014 02:40:51 PM EDT
Updated On: Mar 12 2014 05:30:00 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Researchers say they are getting close to developing medicine to treat the dreaded and contagious norovirus, often called the stomach bug.  Right now there is no vaccine or antiviral drug to treat the virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Infections are commonly foodborne and contracted in public places like hospitals, schools and cruise ships.  Kansas State University Pathobiologist Kyeong-Ok Chang is leading a team of researchers in developing an antiviral drug.

The team has synthesized and tested more than 1,000 compounds to identify one that can treat norovirus, which is the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States. The researchers have found several compounds with the best potential for further drug development.

"We are dealing with an existing problem so that's why we think this is very, very important to do, finding those antivirals against this norovirus," explained Chang.

Channel 4 spoke with Kansas State University and we're told the next step is clinical testing.  Chang says the trials will take some time, but if all goes as planned, and the FDA approves the antiviral drug, it could be available to the public in 10 to 15 years.

The other institutes involved in developing the drug are Wichita State University, Ohio State University and the pharmaceutical company Macrobiotics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, norovirus infects one in 15 Americans every year.  The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness.

If you or someone you know has norovirus, read the CDC's recommendations for clean-up and disenfection.

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