Statins should be considered as a possible treatment for Ebola, some researchers argue.
In addition lowering cholesterol levels, statins have anti-inflammatory properties, and some scientists say they may be able to fight the out-of-control immune-system response in Ebola patients that damages the body, Fox News
David Fedson, M.D., a retired professor and vaccine expert in France, advanced the notion in an editorial on the topic in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
In patients with Ebola, the virus can cause life-threatening symptoms by attacking the immune system, which causes the release a dangerous "storm" of inflammatory molecules. Statins might help tame this storm, Dr. Fedson said.
Statins also have been suggested as a treatment for patients with sepsis, a blood infection that involves an out-of-control immune response similar to that seen in Ebola patients, Dr. Fedson said. A 2012 study of 100 patients with found that patients who were given a statin were 83 percent less likely to progress to severe sepsis (with failure of one or more organs), compared to those who were not given a statin.
Statins might also help decrease the chance that Ebola patients experience hemorrhaging, because the drugs affect blood-clotting, said Anita McElroy and Christina Spiropoulou, M.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a letter accompanying the editorial.
"Investigators have not developed an effective vaccine against EVD [Ebola virus disease], and post-exposure treatments targeting the virus or the host response are in the early stages of development," Dr. Fedson wrote. "Statins, however, are widely available to African physicians as inexpensive generic drugs, and are used to treat patients with cardiovascular disease every day."
Amesh Adalja, M.D., a representative for the Infectious Disease Society of America, agreed that using statins for Ebola is "an idea that holds promise and deserves to be studied."
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