An antidepressant may protect against Ebola

Zoloft and another drug keep most mice alive after infection with the virus

Ebola virus

UNLIKELY CANDIDATE  The antidepressant drug Zoloft and another approved medication might fight the Ebola virus (shown). 

C. Bickel/Science Translational Medicine

The fearsome Ebola virus may itself fall victim to two already approved medications — the antidepressant drug Zoloft and a drug for patients with heart problems.

Researchers tested roughly 2,600 compounds and found 30 approved drugs with some capacity to fight the virus in lab-dish tests. The team tested several of these drugs in mice and found that Zoloft, also called sertraline,and the heart drug marketed as Vascor protected the animals best. Seven of 10 mice exposed to the virus and inoculated with Zoloft one hour later survived, as did all 10 given Vascor, a calcium channel blocker also called bepridil. The drugs block viral entry into cells, the team reports in the June 3 Science Translational Medicine.

The researchers plan to further test the drugs against Ebola, which has a high fatality rate and no known cure.

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