Ebola virus disease (EVD) is running rampant through some countries in West Africa, and it is now a major concern in the United States. Even before the current outbreak, researchers were trying to develop drugs to tame the dreaded virus.
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (Durham, NC), with funding from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, developed BCX4430 as a treatment for hepatitis C. But BCX4430 is a broad-spectrum antiviral drug, and researchers at BioCryst, the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and other institutions found that it protects rodents and primates against EVD for up to 48 h after infection. BCX4430 has been fast-tracked as an EVD drug for humans.
Favipiravir also was developed to combat a disease other than EVD. It is manufactured by Fujifilm subsidiary Toyama Chemical (Tokyo) and was approved in Japan as an influenza drug early in 2014. More recently, the Japanese government gave the green light to West African countries to use favipiravir against EVD. Previous research shows that favipiravir reduces EVD in mice.
[See also this week's Noteworthy Chemistry.—]
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