This is an interesting post from Fierce Biotech this morning. It seems investigators tested the Novartis cancer drugs Gleevec and Tasigna against Ebola virus. Surprisingly (perhaps -- this must have chosen to test for some reason), the drugs did show some effectiveness against the virus. Tasigna slowed viral reproduction by 10,000 fold.
Both drugs block the activity of the Bcr-Abl protein (tyrosine kinase) in cancers which seems to slow spreading of the disease. In the case of Ebola, the drugs block the c-Abl1 tyr kinase and thus blocked the spread of viral particles.
The hope is that new similar drugs can be made to more specifically target c-Abl1 to further slow the disease and perhaps give the body's immune response a chance to stave off the infection enough to prevent death. Currently 9 of 10 Ebola victims succumb.
I think it is another interesting example of how know medicines might be repurposed to treat diseases that they were not orginally intended to battle. With enhanced screening capabilities - real and virtual - we may be able to conitnue to find existing medicines that can be applied to the treatment of diseases without good alternatives.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Mar 5th 2012