H&P Labs, Harvard team up to develop oral Ebola treatment

H&P Labs is partnering with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital to license two compounds to develop an oral drug therapy against the Ebola virus. | Courtesy of H&P Labs, Inc.

H&P Labs, Inc., a private biotechnology company, said last week that it plans to partner with Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital to license two classes of compounds to develop an oral drug therapy to fight the Ebola virus.

The compounds interfere with the entry of virus particles into cells, H&P Labs said. The first compound targets a host protein, called the Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1), which binds to the Ebola virus needed for infection. The second compound blocks the transport of the virus particles to cells that contain the NPC1 protein.

"We are excited about the potential of these inhibitors for development of an oral treatment for Ebola," John Huss, president and CEO of H&P Labs, said. "With a shortened regulatory pathway to commercialization and their ability to be used in combination with other treatments, these compounds have the potential to meet the critical unmet need for an effective (Ebola virus) therapy."

Dr. James Cunningham from the Harvard Medical School and a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said the research has shown that the compounds inhibit how the virus is able to spread and grow in humans.

“It is exciting to see 10 years of research culminate in this opportunity, which has the potential to lead to the development of anti-viral drugs,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham conducted the research along with other collaborators at the hospital and Harvard Medical School's New England Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and Centers for Excellence for Translational Research.