A Therapy for Ebola?

One of the most deadly viruses in the world may respond to new treatment

By Mary Loftus

CDC/Dr. Frederick A. Murphy

Zaire and the Sudan, 1976, 431 deaths. Gabon, 1994, 31 deaths. Uganda, 2000, 224 deaths.

Ebola is one of the most feared epidemics in the world; if left untreated, the virus kills up to three of four people it infects. It is also classified as a potential biological weapon.

But a class of anticancer drugs may be effective against the deadly virus, Emory researchers have found. Nilotinib (sold commercially as Tasigna), a drug approved in the US and Europe for the treatment of leukemia, can inhibit the ability of the Ebola virus to replicate in the laboratory.

The results were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Daniel Kalman and colleagues have shown that Nilotinib and related cancer drugs could be used to fight a surprising variety of diseases, including smallpox and TB. Kalman worked with Gary Nabel, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and colleagues to discover that Nilotinib could reduce Ebola viral production in infected cells by up to ten thousand-fold.

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