Daniel Ansari (Courtesy of Daniel Ansari)

Debate erupts on ‘repurposed’ drugs for Ebola

Martin is a contributing news editor and writer based in Amsterdam

With the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa escalating, some scientists think they can save lives by using existing, approved drugs that weren't developed for Ebola but that might nonetheless help patients. Among the proposals being floated are interferon α and statins. The advantage of such existing drugs is that they have been tested for safety, and they are cheap and widely available. But some Ebola scientists oppose trying anything that has not been shown to reduce mortality from Ebola in nonhuman primates. They say that some of the drugs might make the disease worse, and even if they just aren't effective, they might hamper the prospects for the long-term future of more promising drugs developed specifically for Ebola. So far, the World Health Organization appears to be skeptical as well.

*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.

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