The Ebola virus and HIV share a handful of similarities which raises questions about the potential for HIV medication to be used as treatment for Ebola patients. Recently a Doctor in Liberia has claimed successful treatment of Ebola using Lamivudine which typically inhibits reverse transcriptase when used as an HIV treatment. Dr. Gobee Logan administered the drug to 15 patients of which 13 survived. Although the sample is too small to draw conclusions and it is doubtful that a scientific process was followed due the nature of the outbreak it certainly provides an interesting line of thought that may very well lead to a better understanding of Ebola treatment. This all depends on whether the Doctors claims can be validated and replicated. No data could be found on lab confirmations for the Ebola virus in the patients which received Lamivudine.

HIV Drugs for Ebola?

By Thomas Splettstoesser (www.scistyle.com) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Doctors will likely point out that Ebola uses RNA dependent RNA polymerase and not reverse transcriptase immediately limiting the potential for HIV drugs to be used as treatment. Lamivudine could potentially be bound to by the Ebola virus but there has not been sufficient testing at this point to confirm its efficacy and given its direct impact on the Liver, which is attacked severely by the virus, the treatment window may be very small if proven effective. Acyclovir and AZT are unlikely candidates since neither offers an analogue used in RNA dependent RNA polymerase. Specifically Acyclovir targets DNA polymerase while Ebola is an RNA virus and AZT is a thymidine analogue.

Experimentation is a vital part of scientific progress and Dr. Gobee Logan is pioneering some interesting tests in a world where western pharmaceutical companies find themselves bound by regulations and process. The regulations have a purpose and serve to protect not only industries but also human lives by ensuring proper testing and safety precautions are taken before prescribing medications. Despite regulation, the Ebola Outbreak will need drastic action and Doctors will understandably push the limits and boundaries as they attempt to save lives.