POST Online Media Lite Edition



 

NEWLY REPORTED COVID-19 CASES IN LAST 24 HOURS (10.19.2021, 8:23pm CEST, WHO):   U.S. 16,894    India 13,058    Brazil 5,738    United Kingdom 48,703    Russia 34,740    Turkey 29,240    Iran 11,844    Colombia 1,299    Italy 1,594    Germany 6,771    Mexico 1,993    Poland 3,930    Philippines 6,943    Ukraine 15,579    Malaysia 5,434    Netherlands 3,389    Iraq 1,559    Thailand 9,122    Czechia 2,521    Chile 1,315    Romania 18,863    Israel 1,483    Serbia 6,461    Kazakhstan 1,396    Cuba 1,844    Vietnam 3,168    Jordan 1,715    Austria 1,797    Greece 3,147    Georgia 5,739    Guatemala 3,649    Belarus 1,956    Bulgaria 4,979    Azerbaijan 1,245    Myanmar 1,133    Slovakia 1,797    Croatia 1,741    Ireland 1,576    Venezuela 1,349    Lithuania 2,235    South Korea 1,073    Mongolia 1,303    Moldova 1,370    Armenia 1,054    Latvia 1,853    Botswana 2,195    Estonia 1,101    China 30    Singapore 2,553    New Zealand 99    Australia 2,186   

Existing anti-parasitic drug could offer treatment for Ebola

Christian Fernsby |
Amid the worsening Ebola outbreak in the Congo, now threatening to spill into Rwanda, a new study suggests that an existing, FDA-approved drug called nitazoxanide could potentially help contain this deadly, highly contagious infection.

Article continues below




In meticulous experiments in human cells, led by Boston Children's Hospital, the drug significantly amplified immune responses to Ebola and inhibited Ebola replication.

The study, published in the Cell Press journal iScience, also showed how the drug works: It enhances the immune system's ability to detect Ebola, normally impeded by the virus.

Nitazoxanide, or NTZ, is currently used to treat gastrointestinal infections caused by parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

It has been shown to be safe and even comes in a formulation for children.

Study leader Anne Goldfeld, MD, of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's, hopes that, with further testing and validation, it could be part of the solution for Ebola.

"Currently, there is no easily deployable therapy for Ebola virus," she says.

"There are some very promising vaccines, but there is no oral, inexpensive medication available."

The Ebola virus caused more than 10,000 deaths in the 2014-2016 West African epidemic and more than 1,800 lives (as of August 6th) in the current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The virus is very good at evading human immune defenses.

Though very small, it has two genes devoted to blocking immune responses.

Goldfeld and collaborators Chad Mire, Ph.D. and Thomas Geisbert, Ph.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, showed in Biosafety Level 4 laboratory experiments that NTZ inhibits the Ebola virus (isolated from an earlier outbreak).

Additional experiments performed in collaboration with Sun Hur, Ph.D. f Boston Children's showed that NTZ works by broadly amplifying the interferon pathway and cellular viral sensors, including two known as RIG-I and PKR.

By deleting RIG-I and PKR in human cells through CRISPR editing, Goldfeld and University of Texas colleagues showed that NTZ works through these molecules to inhibit Ebola virus.

"Ebola masks RIG-I and PKR, so that cells don't perceive that Ebola is inside," explains Goldfeld.

"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."

Goldfeld hopes to move into animal studies soon, especially given that NTZ has already been used in millions of people with minimal side effects.

If effective, it could thus be easily repurposed for Ebola treatment or prevention.


What to read next

Ebola, very infectious but not very contagious disease
Ebola virus infects reproductive organs in monkeys, humans may be hit too
Experimental Ebola vaccines elicit year-long immune response