(HealthDay News) — A screening test has identified more than 50 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications that could be helpful in treating people with Ebola, researchers report. The study was published online December 17 in Emerging Microbes and Infections.

The screening test involves a laboratory-engineered Ebola virus which contains two proteins from the pathogen, but does not include the infectious genetic material that makes Ebola so dangerous, study author Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, PhD, director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, told HealthDay. This Ebola-like particle can enter human cells as the actual virus does. It provides a safe and effective way for researchers to test drugs that might block Ebola from entering cells, he said.

The researchers used this engineered Ebola virus to screen a panel of 600 FDA-approved drugs. These drugs were originally prepared for a cancer treatment project, according to background information from the study. The researchers also did a follow-up screening on 2,816 compounds. From these samples, the researchers identified 53 drugs with potential. These drugs fall into six different categories, including antihistamines, antipsychotics, and anticancer/antibiotic medications.

“These drugs are all approved, so they could be deployed quickly if follow-up research proves that they are effective,” Garcia-Sastre said.

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