Devising Drugs

When scientists sequenced the genome of the SARS coronavirus in April, the medical community hailed the achievement for its startling swiftness, announcing the first step on the road to defeating the disease had been taken. A little more than a month later, however, little has changed for SARS patients in Asian hospital wards and ICUs. Diagnostic tests are still slow or unreliable. Treatment for the disease—a combination of steroids and ribavirin—hasn’t proved very effective and has barely been modified since the early weeks of the outbreak. The best tools for stopping SARS are still face masks, fever checks and quarantine—19th century...

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