Existing Class of Drugs Might Block Ebola and Marburg Viruses: Study

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According to a new study published in the Journal of Virology, a class of commonly used drugs can block the Ebola and Marburg viruses from entering host cells.

Marji_120815_2Researchers discovered that the way Ebola and Marburg enter the host cells is through a cell surface receptor that acts like a gateway. The cell surface receptor is a protein called G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). They sit on the surface of the cells and are part of a wide range of biological processes.

The research team screened about 1,000 compounds and found that 20 GPCR antagonists—molecules that block the receptor—were successful in stopping Ebola and Marburg viruses from entering the host cells.

Researchers conclude that GPCRs play an essential role in “filovirus entry” and GPCR antagonists can be used as an effective therapy to fight against the Ebola and Marburg viruses.

The study’s lead investigator, Professor Lijun Rong, suggests that there are a lot of drugs that work through this mechanism. “This gives us a huge repertoire that can be tested against Ebola/Marburg,” notes Rong.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most severe outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976. Since March 2014, there have been 27,898 Ebola cases and 11,296 deaths from the virus.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Han, C. et al., “Inhibition of Ebola and Marburg viral entry by G protein-coupled receptor antagonists,” Journal of Virology, doi:10.1128/JVI.01337-15, published online July 22, 2015. http://jvi.asm.org/content/early/2015/07/16/JVI.01337-15.abstract
Paddock, C., “Existing class of drugs may halt Ebola, Marburg viruses,” Medical News Today web site, August 11, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297934.php.

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