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Experts Say Schizophrenia Drug Cures SARS

BEIJING (AP) _ A drug used to treat schizophrenia has been shown to prevent and treat severe acute respiratory syndrome, according to Chinese and European experts at a conference in China, the government said Sunday.

Cinanserin was found to inhibit the coronavirus that causes the deadly flu-like SARS, which first emerged in the country's south in late 2002, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The finding was announced by experts attending a meeting of the Sino-European Project on SARS Diagnostics and Antivirals in the coastal city of Hangzhou.

The report said cinanserin was among 15 drugs that appeared effective in preventing SARS but that the other 14 had yet to undergo sufficient testing.

``Cinanserin could be directly prescribed to prevent the SARS disease or treat SARS patients if the fatal epidemic mounts a comeback,'' Peter Kristensen, an expert from Denmark's University of Aarhus, was quoted as saying.

The disease killed 349 people in mainland China and sickened thousands worldwide before subsiding in July 2003. Another person died in April in China during a brief outbreak traced to a Beijing laboratory that handled the virus.
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