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Medicine The Military Science

Possible Treatment For Ebola 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-a-pill-for-that dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "Researchers at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have found a class of drugs that could provide treatment for Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The new drugs are called 'antisense' compounds, and they allow the immune system to attack the viruses before they can do enough damage to kill the patient. Travis Warren, research scientist at USAMRIID, said while the work is still preliminary -— the drugs have been tested only on primates — the results are so far promising. In the case of Ebola, five of eight monkeys infected with the virus lived, and with Marburg, all survived. The drugs were developed as part of a program to deal with possible bioterrorist threats, in partnership with AVI Biopharma."
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Possible Treatment For Ebola

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  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:17PM (#33375746) Homepage

    Perhaps the priority should be more focused on dealing with corruption and poverty in the first place. For example. The UN will address the symptoms with food and aid, but will never address the problem of dictatorships and warlords that cause this poverty and corruption.

    Don't be surprised though. Western civilization has lost its resolve a long time ago. As an American, I really wish the British Empire never dissolved.

  • by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:18PM (#33375756) Journal

    Ebola only occurs in one part of the world unlike malaria, so you could stockpile them with an NGO like WHO to take with them when an outbreak occurs.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:34PM (#33375900) Journal
    I'm assuming that the developers have no plan for that. Either because they view it as somebody else's problem, or because they just don't care.

    The "U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases" isn't exactly the Peace Corps. They probably wouldn't object if the UN or some NGO wanted to buy a bunch of doses for people where hemorrhagic fevers are endemic; this sure isn't being announced like it is some sort of national secret; but I assume that their interest in doing the research is in addressing the contingency of having a 1st world, especially American, population center with the stuff by malice or accident and high speed air travel.

    Even there, unless we are planning to stock a lot of doses, it would almost certainly be used to preserve military readiness and civilians deemed to be important. I doubt the PR people would really like to talk about it; but it isn't exactly a gigantic secret that some people would be closer to the top of the list than others in an emergency.
  • by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:36PM (#33375918) Journal

    I dunno about that. We really dodged a bullet with the Reston strain. There's no reason it could mutate again and become airborne and lethal.

  • by kyriosdelis (1100427) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:33PM (#33376348)
    Assuming, by their name (anti-sense) that these drugs take advantage of the RNA-interference [wikipedia.org] pathway, the molecules used, short interfering RNA (siRNA) don't need to have a 100% specific match to a messenger RNA (mRNA) in order to silence it. When the match is 100%, then the viral mRNA is cleaved (by means of a complex called RISC), and there is no chance of it translating into protein, whereas non-perfect matches don't result in RNA cleavage, but at the same time still block the enzymes that perform the translation (because the siRNA remain stuck to the viral mRNA). Therefore, small mutations in the virus might not have an effect in the drug's efficiency. It's a win-win situation for us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:11PM (#33376576)

    Assuming like the other reply that these are anti-sense RNA class drugs, it is basically impossible for a virus to become truly immune to the class it self, if you can get them to work then they will be better than antibiotics are for bacteria. They target the RNA of the virus with other RNA, the two bind and are degraded by the cell. While viruses simply lack the capacity to evolve active immunity to these drugs as a class they have been known to suppress parts of the cells defenses, however these types of mechanism are involved in gene regulation as well, it is not like the virus can stop them without killing the cell immediately.

    Larger sequence changes will confer immunity, but the difficult part of these drugs is not making them but delivering them. Once you have a method of delivery you can block arbitrary sequences, changing is easy, or you can chose a part of the virus that is particularly essential, derive all possible *functioning* variants of it and use them all at once.

  • Re:Netflix Called (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Swanktastic (109747) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:09AM (#33378314)

    Given the rare, rare incidence of these diseases, I'd say treatment makes more sense than a cure. If we're thinking cure, does it really make sense to spend health dollars on potentially vaccinating everyone for Ebola?

  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @11:00AM (#33381354)

    Ebola-Reston is unique another way: airborne transmission. No humans have died so far, but we can't yet rule out a .1% or 1% mortality rate (over 80% chance a 1% mortality rate is undetected). Heck, with 20 exposed people surviving, there's potentially a 1/3 chance of a 5% mortality going undetected.

    Airborne and with the potential for killing millions, yeah, might as well stockpile a little bit in the Philippines just in case.

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