Toronto: Using a novel and quick drug-screening method, researchers have found that anti-HIV drugs may be effective against the deadly Ebola virus that transmits from humans to humans by infectious body fluids.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak in 2014-15 a public health emergency of international concern and it is the largest outbreak to date. To date, no vaccines or treatments are available for Ebola.
“It was found that drugs normally used to treat HIV/AIDS were also effective at inhibiting Ebola, alone, but more so in combination with interferon beta,” said Donald Branch, associate professor at University of Toronto in Canada.
Interferon beta, the most potent inhibitor of Ebola which the team identified as a result of the screening, is now part of a clinical trial of individuals who were infected with Ebola during the recent outbreak in Guinea.
The quick screening method has been used for the first time in a standard open laboratory to identify and test promising anti-Ebola drugs. This approach increases the possibility of finding new therapies faster, the researchers said.
The screening procedure – used in the US to model and study virus replication – allows for continuing evaluation of new antivirals or anti-Ebola drugs, since there is a likelihood of future Ebola outbreaks.
Research on new Ebola therapies has been limited by an inability to compare antiviral effectiveness, since cell model systems, treatment regimens and results are so varied that it is difficult to compare effectiveness amongst the compounds, and prioritise which ones are most promising to pursue.
The method and technology used for this study can be performed in most labs and evaluation of two and three drug combinations can also be examined using this method, the researchers said.