Hendra and Nipah viruses are recently emerged zoonotic paramyxoviruses for which there is no vaccine or protective therapy available. While a number of experimental therapeutics and vaccines have recently been reported, all of these will require lengthy approval processes, limiting their usefulness in the short term. To address the urgent need for henipavirus therapeutics, a number of currently licensed pharmaceuticals have been evaluated for off label efficacy against henipavirus replication in vitro. Initially it was observed that compounds which released intracellular calcium stores induced a potent inhibition of henipaviruses replication, prompting the evaluation of known drugs with a similar effect on calcium mobilisation. Of the eight compounds randomly selected based on existing literature, seven inhibited virus replication in the micromolar range while the remaining compound also inhibited virus replication but only at millimolar concentrations. Pretreatment experiments with various calcium chelators, channel antagonists or endoplasmic reticulum release inhibitors supported a calcium mediated mechanism of action for five of these compounds. The mechanism of antiviral action for the remaining three compounds is currently unknown. Additionally, a number of other modulators of calcium flux, including calcium channel and calmodulin antagonists also exhibited potent antiviral activity in vitro providing a broad range of potential therapeutic options for the treatment of henipavirus infections. Importantly, as many of these compounds are currently licensed drugs, regulatory approval should be a much more streamlined process, with the caveat that appropriate in vivo efficacy can be demonstrated in animal models.
Aljofan, M., Lo, M., Rota, P., Michalski, W., & Mungall, B. (2010). Off label antiviral therapeutics for henipaviruses: New light through old windows. Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals, 2(1), 1 - 10. https://doi.org/10.4172/jaa.1000014