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Cambridge University Science Magazine
Presented at the IDWeek conference last week, this work is part of a collaboration between US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and Gilead Sciences, Foster City. An initial screen carried out at the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention identified a precursor to GS-5734, and the product was refined and developed as part of the collaborative work.

Through cell cultures and animal models, GS-5734 was found to lead to a substantial reduction in viral load and decrease in disease symptoms, such as internal bleeding and tissue damage. The compound, a novel nucleotide analogue, works by blocking replication of viral RNA, preventing the virus from making copies of itself. Untreated, Ebola virus can cause severe haemorrhagic fever, and has been responsible for over 11,000 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone (reported figures, World Health Organisation). However, there are currently no licensed vaccines or therapies.

Alongside protection from multiple Ebola strains GS-5734 is active against a range of other viruses, including Lassa, MERS and Marburg viruses. The compound is currently in phase I clinical trials in human volunteers.

USAMRIID Science Director Sina Bavari, Ph.D., commented "This is the first example of a small molecule--which can be easily prepared and made on a large scale--that shows substantive post-exposure protection against Ebola virus in nonhuman primates. In addition to 100 percent survival in treated animals, the profound suppression of viral replication greatly reduced the severe clinical signs of disease."

The information contained in this report is taken from materials provided by US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Written by Raghd Rostom.