Repurposing the antimalarial pyronaridine tetraphosphate to protect against Ebola virus infection

Thomas R. Lane, Christopher Massey, Jason E. Comer, Manu Anantpadma, Joel S. Freundlich, Robert A. Davey, Peter B. Madrid, Sean Ekins

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Abstract

Recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus (EBOV) have focused attention on the dire need for antivirals to treat these patients. We identified pyronaridine tetraphosphate as a potential candidate as it is an approved drug in the European Union which is currently used in combination with artesunate as a treatment for malaria (EC50 between 420 nM-1.14 μM against EBOV in HeLa cells). Range-finding studies in mice directed us to a single 75 mg/kg i.p. dose 1 hr after infection which resulted in 100% survival and statistically significantly reduced viremia at 21 days from a lethal challenge with mouse-adapted EBOV (maEBOV). Further, an EBOV window study suggested we could dose pyronaridine 2 or 24 hrs postexposure to result in similar efficacy. Analysis of cytokine and chemokine panels suggests that pyronaridine may act as an immunomodulator during an EBOV infection. Our studies with pyronaridine clearly demonstrate potential utility for its repurposing as an antiviral against EBOV and merits further study in larger animal models with the added benefit of already being used as a treatment against malaria.

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Lane, T. R., Massey, C., Comer, J. E., Anantpadma, M., Freundlich, J. S., Davey, R. A., Madrid, P. B., & Ekins, S. (2019). Repurposing the antimalarial pyronaridine tetraphosphate to protect against Ebola virus infection. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 13(11), [e0007890]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007890