Washington: In a ray of hope against the deadly Ebola virus, researchers have found that 53 existing drugs may help keep the virus from entering human cells - a key step in the process of infection.
Several cancer drugs, antihistamines and antibiotics are among the better known drug types shown to hinder infection by an Ebola virus model.
Among the most effective at keeping the virus out of human cells are microtubule inhibitors used to treat cancer, the findings showed.
Other categories that blocked viral entry included estrogen receptor modulators used against cancer and serotonin reuptake inhibitors used to treat depression.
"In light of the historic and devastating outbreak of Ebola virus disease, there is an urgent need to rapidly develop useful treatments against Ebola infection, and our study results argue that repurposing existing drugs may be among the fastest ways to achieve this," said lead author Adolfo García-Sastre from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
"Many of the compounds identified in this study promise to become lead compounds in near-future drug development efforts studies targeting this virus," García-Sastre said.
There is no approved treatment for Ebola virus infection, and the estimated mortality rate of the current Ebola outbreak is nearly 70 percent in many areas.
For the study, the researchers screened through sample libraries of 2,816 compounds already approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for other uses.
The test was designed to identify compounds that blocked the ability of the Ebola virus to enter and infect human cells by at least 50 percent.
The study appeared in the journal Emerging Microbes and Infections.