WARF: P09098US02

Inhibitors of Ebola and Other Filoviruses


Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Shinji Watanabe, Yasuko Hatta

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in inhibitors of filoviruses, as well as methods of identifying additional agents that inhibit these viruses.
OVERVIEWEbola, a negative strand RNA virus in the family Filoviridae, is among the most lethal human pathogens, causing death in 50 to 90 percent of cases. This virus is highly contagious in aerosol form and is one of the most worrisome potential biological weapons.

Because no approved vaccines or antivirals are available for use against Ebola or other filoviruses, biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) containment is mandatory for work with these viruses. This limitation has hindered basic research as well as the development of vaccines and large-scale screening for effective antiviral compounds.

UW-Madison researchers previously developed a method of engineering Ebola virus so it does not contain a protein necessary for replication (see WARF reference number P01214US). To amplify and sustain this virus, it is grown in a cell line that expresses the protein. Because the modified virus is not capable of replicating on its own, it can be used to screen for compounds that interfere with viral replication and packaging without being dangerous to normal cells or requiring BSL-4 containment.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a method of using the modified, biologically contained form of Ebola to identify potential new treatments for Ebola infection. They discovered that the existing drug benztropine mesylate, which is approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other dystonia disorders, interferes with Ebola infection and virus uptake.

The researchers also identified several other agents that inhibit Ebola infection. The agents include triphenylethylene, steroids, anticholinergics, dopamine antagonists and inhibitors of calcium-independent phospholipase A2, magnesium-dependent phosphatidate phosphohydrolase and PGE2 synthase, among others. They can be administered to a human or other mammal to prevent or treat viral infections.
  • Providing new uses for approved drugs
  • Identifying agents that can inhibit infection or replication of filoviruses, including Ebola
  • Preventing or treating viral infections in humans and other mammals
  • Drugs already are approved for other uses.
  • Does not require BSL-4 containment
  • Inhibitors can be used alone or in conjunction with other antiviral, prophylactic or therapeutic compounds.
  • Can be used to identify agents that inhibit other filoviruses in addition to Ebola
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
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UW–Madison has the integrative capabilities to complete many key components of the drug development cycle, from discovery through clinical trials. As one of the top research universities in the world, and one of the two best-funded universities for research in the country, UW–Madison offers state-of-the-art facilities unmatched by most public universities.

These include the Small Molecule Screening Facility at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center; the Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station, which provides consulting and laboratory services for developing formulations and studying solubility, stability and more; the Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility; the Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research, which provides UW–Madison with a complete translational research facility; and the innovative, interdisciplinary Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, home to the private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research and its public twin, WID, part of the university's graduate school. The highly qualified experts at these facilities are ready to work with you to create a library of candidates for drug development.