New small-molecule drug protects against Marburg in tests

The effectiveness of a small-molecule drug in protecting non-human primates from the Marburg virus was recently demonstrated by scientists at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The drug - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s BCX4430 - showed promise against a broad range of other RNA viruses when tested in cell culture, including the emerging viral pathogen Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.

The research, published online in the journal Nature, was managed by Dr. Erin Reichert and performed by Sina Bavari and is the result of a continuing collaboration between Army scientists and industry partners.

The research article, "Protection against filovirus diseases by a novel broad-spectrum nucleoside analog BCX4430," revealed that the drug protected a non-human primate from Marburg virus infection when administered by injection up to 48 hours after infection. The drug was also found to protect guinea pigs from the virus by the inhalation route.

The drug works by interfering with Marburg's internal "machinery," which prevents it from replicating its genetic material.

Funding from the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will allow BioCryst to file investigational new drug applications for intravenous and intramuscular BCX4430 for the treatment of Marburg virus disease, as well as for phase 1 human clinical trials.