Ebola news: New antiviral compound protects monkeys from virus


An antiviral compound, described as “a novel small-molecule antiviral compound,” was able to protect Rhesus monkeys from infection with Ebola virus. The compound, named GS-5734, is a nucleotide analogue prodrug and essentially inhibits the replicative ability of the virus to produce more copies of itself.

These positive preclinical results suggest its potential for development as an effective treatment. Currently, there are still no antivral therapeutics that have received regulatory approval or exhibited clinical efficacy.

The study, which was recently published in the journal Nature, used different cell-culture and animal studies to determine the effectivity of the compound against Ebola and also other types of filoviruses. More importantly, in the animal studies in which Rhesus monkeys were infected with Ebola, it was demonstrated that a once-daily intravenous administration of GS-5734 for 12 days caused the effective reduction of Ebola viral levels and completely protected all of the Ebola-infected monkeys from lethal disease along with its pathophysiological symptoms.

GS-5734 has been shown to be effective against multiple variants of the Ebola virus along with other viruses including the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus and the Marburg virus. In addition, genetic squence analyses showed that the Ebola virus did not develop any resistance against the drug.

The research was done by scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland, with Travis Warren, Ph.D. as the lead investigator, in collaboration with Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company based in Foster City, California.

USAMRIID Science Director Sina Bavari, Ph.D. shared her enthusiasm for the novel drug in a press release, saying that GS-5734 “has several favorable characteristics for potential treatment of Ebola virus disease in humans. It is made using well-controlled chemical synthesis procedures, is stable, and can be made on a large scale.” 

Gilead Sciences is now currently doing the phase 1 clinical trials for the compound, assessing its safety and pharmacokinetic profile in healthy human volunteers.