An Israeli biopharma firm has developed an effective treatment for the rare and deadly Ebola virus, using an existing therapy for COVID-19.
In a new study, RedHill Biopharma found that twice-daily oral doses of its opaganib medication boosted survival from about six days to 11 days in mice infected with the virus.
Its treatment has previously been shown to treat COVID-19, radiation injuries, cancer and other viruses.
Opaganib is a host-directed therapy, meaning it changes the local environment in which the pathogen exists to make it less favorable for it to grow and live in, rather than destroying it directly.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ebola virus is transmitted mostly through contact with an infected animal or person. Symptoms of the virus – including diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhaging – become more severe as the disease progresses.
There are only two US Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for Ebola, both of which are injected to prevent the virus from entering a person’s cells.
The study was funded by the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), whose mission is to protect soldiers from biological threats, while also investigating disease outbreaks and threats to public health.
“The more we learn about [opaganib], its novel host-directed mechanism of action, and its growing safety and tolerability database, the more promising it appears,” said Reza Fathi, PhD, RedHill’s SVP R&D.
“We believe opaganib offers a potential breakthrough for fighting a virus capable of causing devastating outbreaks of disease in the countries least equipped to cope with them.”