Monday, March 5, 2012

Leukemia drugs can treat ebola

Ebola is known for its terrifyingly rapid and unstoppable death. But at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Mayra Garcia's lab has shown that two leukemia drugs, notlitinib and imatinib, can slow the progression of the virus. It does this by stopping the function of the oncogene Abl (a tyrosine kinase), which is necessary for viral budding through the activity of the matrix protein VP40.

This is a really weird overlap of two very different fields! And very cool! The drug can stop rapidly replicating cells and rapidly replicating viruses, though the mechanism is somewhat different. I wonder why viral budding needs Abl? The research hasn't left cell plates yet, but it sounds promising to me. The drugs are kind of toxic, but nothing beats the toxicity of ebola... Anyhow, Its a good reminder to learn everything we can about viral processes, because apparently we can use drugs we've already developed to stop them!




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