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FDA-approved drug could be used to treat Ebola, study shows

Published on 12/08/19 at 11:51am

The FDA-approved anti-parasitic drug nitazoxanide could be used as a treatment for Ebola, according to researchers from the Boston Children's Hospital.

Nitazoxanide, which is currently used to treat gastrointestinal infections caused by parasites, enhances the immune system’s ability to detect Ebola and could thus be used to contain the deadly virus.

In a study published in the journal iScience, the researchers showed the drug boosts the immune system’s ability to detect and fight the Ebola virus, which is particularly tricky to tackle due to its ability to evade and block immune responses.

Dr Anne Goldfeld, explained: “Ebola masks RIG-I and PKR, so that cells don't perceive that Ebola is inside. This lets Ebola get a foothold in the cell and race ahead of the immune response. What we've been able to do is enhance the host viral detection response with NTZ. It's a new path in treating Ebola.”

The study offers hope for the potential for a new treatment for Ebola which now threatens to spill from the Congo into Rwanda.

“Currently, there is no easily deployable therapy for Ebola virus. There are some very promising vaccines, but there is no oral, inexpensive medication available,” Goldfeld said.

Nitazoxanide was first discovered by Franco-American scientist Jean-François Rossignol at the Pasteur Institute in the 1980s. It was subsequently developed by Rossignol’s own company Romark.

Louis Goss

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