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Ibuprofen and a cancer drug stop Ebola

The study is, at present, based on theoretical principles. The findings came about after researchers used the U.K.’s national synchrotron facility — Diamond Light Source — to analyze the virus in far greater detail than ever before. Diamond Light Source is located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. As the name suggests, the device functions to produce intense beams of light. Thee light beams are used to examine objects in fine detail. Diamond generates synchrotron light at wavelengths ranging from X-rays to the far infrared.

By examining the Ebola virus, the structure suggests two drugs – anti-cancer drug toremifene and long-standing painkiller ibuprofen – could bind to an important part of Ebola, an area (protein) that the virus needs to infect cells. This binding could disable the ability of Ebola to replicate. Essentially the two drugs ‘trick’ the Ebola protein into prematurely thinking it had attached to a cell. Through social media the facility Diamond Light Source (@DiamondLightSou) tweeted: “Scientists use light 10 billion times stronger than the sun to find potential Ebola weakspot .”

On hearing the news, science writer Kerry Taylor-Smith (@KerryTaylorSmit) said: “Interesting stuff and more fab work @DiamondLightSou : Ibuprofen ‘disables’ Ebola virus.”

Lead researcher, Professor Dave Stuart told BBC Science: “This is the main target on the viral surface, this is the one responsible for attaching to the cell, it’s the key protein to understand.” Currently no drugs can alter the course of an Ebola infection.

The findings are reported in the journal Nature. The research paper is titled “Toremifene interacts with and destabilizes the Ebola virus glycoprotein.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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