Treatment for Ebola and Other Hemorrhagic Fevers One Step Closer to Being a Reality
Testing by using already approved medications are being used to aid in treatments for fatal diseases like HIV-1 and Ebola
Steps toward Treatments for Potential Bioterrorist Organisms
Ever since the days of 9/11, people around the world have been fearful of any terroristic attacks. One form of that is bioterrorism. This is where the terror group takes organisms that occur in nature and make it into a weapon. Attacks such as the sarin gas in the subway tunnel in Japan, or ricin that comes from the byproducts of castor oil obtained from castor beans or the anthrax spores that were sent through the mail; all have people on edge.
Since that time many labs around the world have been searching for ways to treat the effects of these agents or in the case of viruses, find a way to stop them. Drug resistant bacteria like anthrax and difficult to treat viruses like Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa hemorrhagic fevers are a concern since they first were identified in Africa.
In 2013, a study was conducted (Madrid, 2013) in an attempt to produce effective treatments against these potential biological threats. The search started with looking at existing medication that was already approved for use by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as it can take upwards of 20 years for new medications to be approved for use. Their testing found that they drug that had the most consistent affect against the organisms was chloroquine that protected mice from contracting Ebola.
This was not the first time that drugs already approved were repurposed for another use. Wellbutrin frequently prescribed for depression, was also used to help people quit smoking under the name Zyban. Cymbalta is another drug originally approved for depression is now being used to help treat stress incontinence.
Then Vanderbilt University Medical Center came up with results from their testing that was one step closer to protecting people from the three major hemorrhagic diseases because they are so easily spread from person to person. This results again found chloroquine was good at fighting the ebola virus but also had shown some promise against HIV-1(Entman, 2018).
According to Pavlo Gilchuck and James Crowe both working at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, have reported they are one step closer to their goal of developing an effective treatment against the viruses that cause the fatal conditions in humans. These treatments are antibody treatments and are meant to treat someone who has either been exposed or actually has the disease. Then next step will be trying to find a vaccine for these diseases. Their findings were even published in the journal Immunity. They started their search by using plasma (the liquid part of the blood after the red bloods cells are removed) of patients who had survived an infection with Ebola.
They started their search for some kind of treatment for the disease as more than 11,000 people died between 2014-2016 in West Africa alone. They have been able to isolate a diverse number of virus-specific antibodies that not only neutralized three Ebola viruses but also the one that was responsible for the most recent outbreak in Western Africa. In addition to the effect on multiple Ebolavirus species, one of the discovered antibodies were able to protect guinea pigs from exposure to a lethal trial of the virus. From human antibody work it hoped by the team that a protective strategy for Ebola will soon be found.
Entman, L. (2018). Team Finds Potent Antibodies Against Three Ebola Viruses. Vanderbilt University Medical Center.Vanderbilt University. https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2018/07/19/team-finds-potent-antibodies-against-three-ebola-viruses/
Gilchuck, Pavlo & Crowe, James. (2018). Team Finds Potent Antibodies Against Three Ebola Viruses. Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Vanderbilt University. http://news.vumc.org/2018/07/19/team-finds-potent-antibodies-against-three-ebola-viruses/
Gilchuck, P., Kuzmina, N., Ilinykh, P., Huang, K., Gunn, B., Bryan, A., Davidson, E…Crowe Jr., J. (2018). Multifunctional Pan-ebolavirus Antibody Recognizes a Site of Broad Vulnerability on Ebola Glycoprotien. Immunity. Science Direct. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.immuni.2018.06.018
Madrid PB, Chopra S, Manger ID, Gilfillan L, Keepers TR, Shurtleff AC, et al. (2013) A Systematic Screen of FDA-Approved Drugs for Inhibitors of Biological Threat Agents. PLoS ONE 8(4): e60579. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0060579