Antiviral protects monkeys from Ebola virus

After three days post-infection with Ebola virus, 100% of rhesus monkeys survived after being given antiviral treatment. In addition, the monkeys exhibited a reduction in viral load as well as a decrease in the physical signs of the disease. This research was conducted by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The initial compound being worked with was a precursor to GS-5734, which is a small antiviral agent. GS-5734 is a novel prodrug which the Ebola virus by blocking the virus’s ability to replicate it’s genetic material.

The thing I found most interesting about this discovery is that GS-5734 use is favorable in humans because it can be made using a well-controlled chemical procedure and can be produced in mass quantities. I think that this research should be further studied to see how this antiviral can be used to cure the Ebola virus in humans. It will be interesting to see how soon this can be implemented. My question for the class is: How do you think we should go about testing this antiviral in human subjects?

Reference:

Travis K. Warren, Robert Jordan, Michael K. Lo, Adrian S. Ray, Richard L. Mackman, Veronica Soloveva, Dustin Siegel, Michel Perron, Roy Bannister, Hon C. Hui, Nate Larson, Robert Strickley, Jay Wells, Kelly S. Stuthman, Sean A. Van Tongeren, Nicole L. Garza, Ginger Donnelly, Amy C. Shurtleff, Cary J. Retterer, Dima Gharaibeh, Rouzbeh Zamani, Tara Kenny, Brett P. Eaton, Elizabeth Grimes, Lisa S. Welch, Laura Gomba, Catherine L. Wilhelmsen, Donald K. Nichols, Jonathan E. Nuss, Elyse R. Nagle, Jeffrey R. Kugelman, Gustavo Palacios, Edward Doerffler, Sean Neville, Ernest Carra, Michael O. Clarke, Lijun Zhang, Willard Lew, Bruce Ross, Queenie Wang, Kwon Chun, Lydia Wolfe, Darius Babusis, Yeojin Park, Kirsten M. Stray, Iva Trancheva, Joy Y. Feng, Ona Barauskas, Yili Xu, Pamela Wong, Molly R. Braun, Mike Flint, Laura K. McMullan, Shan-Shan Chen, Rachel Fearns, Swami Swaminathan, Douglas L. Mayers, Christina F. Spiropoulou, William A. Lee, Stuart T. Nichol, Tomas Cihlar, Sina Bavari. Therapeutic efficacy of the small molecule GS-5734 against Ebola virus in rhesus monkeysNature, 2016; DOI:1038/nature17180

 

 

Host gene expression classifiers diagnose acute respiratory illness etiology

Antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasingly hot topic in the news.  The drugs we have been using in the last few decades are starting to face some serious problems with the development of various antibiotic-resistant super bugs.  A great deal of research has been conducted lately regarding ways we can curb this trend to ensure the medications we have will be able to work long into the future.

One cause of growing antibiotic resistant is the mis-diagnosis and subsequent mis-treatment of common respiratory infections.  Often when a patient visits the doctor with this kind of illness, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics without determining if the infection is actually bacterial based or viral based.  A recent article looked at a possible test that could distinguish between the two types of infections, therefore leading to more accurate treatment and curbing inappropriate use of antibiotics.

The researchers analyzed host RNA looking for identifiers that would indicate whether the host, or patient, was responding to a bacterial or viral infection.  It analyzed data on what genes are expressed or over-expressed during each kind of infection to set classifications by which they would be able to analyze the subject’s genetics.

Using these new classifications the prediction of infection type overall in subjects was 87% accurate.

I feel like this could be an extremely impactful test if it becomes implemented in the community setting.  I know so many friends who simply expect antibiotics from their physician when they have a cough.  This puts pressure on the physician to prescribe even if they are not sure of the diagnosis.  With this test it would aid physicians in making a firm diagnosis that they could explain to the patients, curbing inappropriate antibiotic use for viral respiratory infections.

Overall, it seems like this would be a worthwhile test to implement. What problems could arise with the implementation of such a test in a physician’s office?

Tsalik EL, Henao R, Nichols M, et al. Host gene expression classifiers diagnose acute respiratory illness etiology. Sci Transl Med. 2016;8:1-11.

http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/322/322ra11