Background: The recent outbreak of Ebola has been cited as the largest in history. Despite this global health crisis, few drugs are available to efficiently treat Ebola infections. Drug repurposing provides a potentially efficient solution to accelerating the development of therapeutic approaches in response to Ebola outbreak. To identify such candidates, we use an integrated structural systems pharmacology pipeline which combines proteome-scale ligand binding site comparison, protein-ligand docking, and Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulation.
Results: One thousand seven hundred and sixty-six FDA-approved drugs and 259 experimental drugs were screened to identify those with the potential to inhibit the replication and virulence of Ebola, and to determine the binding modes with their respective targets. Initial screening has identified a number of promising hits. Notably, Indinavir; an HIV protease inhibitor, may be effective in reducing the virulence of Ebola. Additionally, an antifungal (Sinefungin) and several anti-viral drugs (e.g. Maraviroc, Abacavir, Telbivudine, and Cidofovir) may inhibit Ebola RNA-directed RNA polymerase through targeting the MTase domain.
Conclusions: Identification of safe drug candidates is a crucial first step toward the determination of timely and effective therapeutic approaches to address and mitigate the impact of the Ebola global crisis and future outbreaks of pathogenic diseases. Further in vitro and in vivo testing to evaluate the anti-Ebola activity of these drugs is warranted.