Can Ebola be treated with cancer drugs?

Mudassir Ali
Mar 11, 2020 10:43 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Mar 11, 2020 10:43 AM

The problem with this suggestion is that the envelope protein doesn’t really have anything to do with either Ebola or cancer.

An envelope protein does what the name suggests – it’s part of the molecular packaging that surrounds the core of the virus, which includes its genetic material. The envelope helps the viral genes get inside the human cell, and then its job is done and the viral genes take over. An oncogenic virus has genes that cause cancer; the Ebola virus has different genes that cause the symptoms of Ebola.

Now, if there were anti-cancer drugs that acted by destroying the envelope protein so the virus couldn’t get into the cell in the first place, then it’s hypothetically possible that they might also have some effect against Ebola and other viruses that use similar envelope proteins. However, I don’t know of any such cancer treatments, and I don’t imagine anyone’s working on them – retroviruses are not a major cause of human cancer at all, and even if they were, there would be easier ways to fight them than to target the envelope proteins (for example the drugs used to fight HIV, which is a retrovirus, target the enzymes that copy the viral genes and assemble everything together into new virus copies, not the envelope protein).

So, unfortunately, all that would happen if you gave anti-cancer drugs to someone with Ebola is that you’d make an already very sick person even sicker, due to the side-effects of the drugs.

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