I recently found a study published in the June 19, 2013 edition of Science Translational Medicine which strongly suggests that currently approved Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (estrogen blockers, for short) would be effective in inhibiting the Ebola virus. Presumably these drugs would be effective if taken either prophylactically before and during exposure or as a treatment after the onset of symptoms.
I did a Google search, and I can find no news story containing either the words "ebola" and "clomiphene" or "ebola" and "toremifene. I find this pretty amazing, especially in light of the mouse study, which I describe below.
The drugs which were tested in vitro and in a mouse study are clomiphene (Clomid) and toremifene, both of which are estrogen blockers. Some other estrogen blockers were also considered, but these two were apparently considered the ones with the most promise. The drugs appear to interfere with the Ebola virus in a method not related to the traditional estrogen pathways. From the study: "Although we initially identified the ER antagonist compounds on the basis of their collective known mechanism of action, our results indicate that these compounds are mediating their antiviral effects through cell-based mechanisms unrelated to the classical estrogen signaling pathway."
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Mice treated with toremifene had a 50 percent survival rate. For clomiphene, 90 percent of the treated animals survived. This is nothing short of amazing. The drugs were equally effective in both male and female mice.
Mice aren't humans, but it would seem to me that a drug designed for humans that inhibits virus reproduction in mice would do the same in humans. In light of this study, I know that if I were to be exposed or infected with the Ebola virus I would definitely want to be placed on clomiphene. (Sadly, clomiphene requires the CYP2d6 enzyme to be fully effective, so I'm probably out of luck, as is about five percent of the population).
Some people say we should never take a drug without endless double-blind studies. I say that I don't want to be the mouse that's left in the "control" group with a 100 percent fatality rate. If any of you want to be the dead mouse, feel free to volunteer.
We don't know whether these drugs are being used for recent Ebola patients or not. In fact, we've only been given sketchy details about what treatments various Ebola patients have received, some of which have been "experimental." Surely these doctors are just as good at surfing the Internet as I am.
On the downside, widespread prophylactic use of estrogen blockers is likely to result in a viral mutation that will manage to overcome the interference caused by the drugs. This is the story of all antivirals or antibiotics -- the public health footrace we can never win but hope not to lose.
But whatever treatments are being used, no media outlets have reported the fact that these estrogen blocking drugs have demonstrated a high degree of effectiveness in stopping reproduction of the Ebola virus. So tell your friends, ColRebSez had it first.
ADDENDUM, 10/29, 8:57 P.M.: Given that the mortality rate of Ebola infections is as much as 80 percent in West Africa, I'm surprised that massive quantities of clomiphene or other estrogen blockers haven't been shipped over. No, it's not tried and true, but how much worse can the outcomes be? There is really nothing to lose.
As I mentioned, even if effective there may be a limited window in which these drugs will be effective before the Ebola virus mutates and develops resistance to it. Amantadine, for example, used to be effective against the flu; all flu strains are now resistant. Tamiflu remains mostly effective against the flu, although resistant strains have appeared.
In any event, it would seem to me to be helpful to try to use any weapons we might have against the virus. Better to stop it now and worry about antiviral resistance later.