Japan Proposes Influenza Drug To Treat Ebola | September 1, 2014 Issue - Vol. 92 Issue 35 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 92 Issue 35 | p. 12 | News of The Week
Issue Date: September 1, 2014 | Web Date: August 28, 2014

Japan Proposes Influenza Drug To Treat Ebola

Pharmaceuticals: Country says Fujifilm’s favipiravir is available
Department: Business
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: Ebola, RNA polyamase inhibitor, neuraminidase inhibitor, siRNA

The Japanese government said this week that it is prepared to make an influenza drug that is not approved for the treatment of Ebola available to West African countries hard-hit by the deadly virus.

“We have been informed that there are inquiries from those countries about the medicine developed by a Japanese company that may be effective in treating the virus,” Yoshihide Suga, chief cabinet secretary, said at a press conference last week. If requested to do so by the World Health Organization, “we will provide it in cooperation with the company,” Suga said.

The drug, favipiravir, brand-named Avigan, is manufactured by Fujifilm subsidiary Toyama Chemical and was approved in Japan as an influenza treatment earlier this year.

Avigan, a polymerase inhibitor, stifles viral gene replication within infected cells to prevent the spread of the virus to uninfected cells. As a treatment for influenza, the drug is an alternative to neuraminidase inhibitors such as Tamiflu and Relenza, which act by inhibiting the release of viral particles from infected cells.

Although Avigan has not been tried on Ebola patients, a Fujifilm spokeswoman says the company is aware of tests performed by independent researchers that show it reduces Ebola infection in mice. The company, she says, has sufficient supplies of favipiravir for more than 20,000 people and has developed a system for continuous production of the drug.

Avigan joins a growing roster of potential treatments for the disease, which has killed nearly 1,500 people in the current outbreak. One drug, ZMapp, an antibody mixture developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical, seemed effective for two American aid workers, who were able to leave an Atlanta hospital late last month after being infected in Africa. However, a doctor in Liberia died after being treated with ZMapp.

Other drugs in development to treat the disease include an siRNA compound from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and an antisense drug from Sarepta Therapeutics.

And the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases will begin human safety tests this week on a GlaxoSmithKline vaccine in development for the treatment of Ebola. In parallel, a British-based consortium will test the vaccine in volunteers in the U.K. and Africa.

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Joseph Keter (September 3, 2014 4:26 AM)
Thank you for making that information available to us. I wish all people making attempts to stop and possibly eradicate the dreadful disease success in their effort. The world will benefit from their success.
Famous Akpabli (September 3, 2014 10:02 AM)
awesome research. we hope the new drug will prove especially efficacious in the prevention of this deadly disease.as well counting on WHO for speed approval
Mensah Peter Foreigner (September 6, 2014 8:50 AM)
Splendid research!!! We strongly believe that sooner than later this dreadful virus would be exterminated.
Peter (October 19, 2014 11:29 AM)
As far as I can tell the UK and US bio-weapons establishments knew an effective cure (if treated early enough)
since 1976. They kept an accident in a UK weapons lab in check using the
blood (plasma) of survivors of Ebola, and who have been screened for other
diseases to prevent accidental Hep, HIV etc... transmission.

This blood had peak levels of antibodies against the virus, and took down the virus in the blood stream
of the patient by 10,000 fold in 24h. Interferon (yeah, the one the civilians tried endlessly with HIV 10 years later)
didn't work. The UK patient survived.


Zmapp goes in this direction but uses lab produced and expensive antibodies.

Personally, I think the raw material for saving the rest of africa is the antibodies in the blood of the
convalescent. I hope the WHO and Medicins San Frontiers have every funding they need and get the
prep of convalescent serum going on an industrial scale.

Africa's greatest resource right now is their convalescents.

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