Fujifilm Drug May Emerge As Possible Treatment For Ebola Virus

A drug from Japan's Fujifilm Holdings has emerged as a candidate for treating the Ebola virus, which has led to the death of as many as 1,000 people in Africa during a recent epidemic.

The anti-influenza drug - which was created by a Fugifilm subsidiary, Toyama Chemical Co., - is called favipiravir. In March, the medication was approved by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

A spokesman of the Drug Company (Fugifilm), said Friday that the company was in talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on how to prepare for trials of the drug in treating Ebola. “Since Ebola and influenza viruses are the same type, theoretically, the same effects can be expected on Ebola,” said the spokesman. He also added that the drug is currently approved to treat only novel and re-emerging influenza viruses.

According to The World Health Organization, fears over Ebola are growing especially after two American medical aid workers were infected in Liberia with the disease, which has a fatality rate of up to 90%.As of Monday, the total of 1,711 Ebola infections and 932 deaths have been reportedin Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

The Wall Street Journal reported that, the two Americans were treated with an experimental drug not yet evaluated for safety in humans called ZMapp and developed by San Diego Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. They are currently hospitalized at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Fujifilm’s drug works in a different way from other anti-influenza drugs such as Tamiflu, the spokesman said. It inhibits viral gene replication within infected cells to prevent propagation.

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