Chemo drug combo effectively treats dengue and Ebola in mice, study finds

The combination of two chemotherapy drugs effectively inhibited both dengue and Ebola virus in mice, though the two viruses are distinctly different from one another, according to a new study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Combining erlotinib and sunitinib has previously shown efficacy in inhibiting the hepatitis C virus, West Nile and Zika in laboratory experiments. The treatment targets proteins in the host cell, which the RNA viruses are attempting to infect, and modifies them to impede intracellular viral trafficking.

For the study, researchers administered the drug combination in mice infected with dengue on the same day as the onset of treatment. Mice in the treatment cohort continued to receive the drug combination for five days. The control group received no treatment. While all the control mice died between days six and 10, mice who received the drug combination survived at a rate of 65 to 100 percent depending on the outcomes of the individual experiment.

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Researchers conducted a similar mouse trial with the Ebola virus. The treatment offered 50 percent of infected mice protection from the virus, while 90 percent of the control mice died within a week or two of infection.

"In summary, our study serves as a proof of concept for the feasibility of identifying novel host-targeted broad-spectrum antiviral therapies via both repurposing and development of novel chemical entities," concluded the study's authors. "Such approaches may provide additive and possibly synergistic effects in combination with other strategies being developed to combat emerging viral infections."

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