Pharmaceutical International News - August 2012
Prozac Has Anti-Viral Properties
Posted by Paul Fiddian - Pharmaceutical International's Lead Reporter on 09/08/2012 - 10:45:00
Researchers have found that the anti-depression drug Prozac can also tackle a range of viruses and could have the potential to save thousands of lives each year.
Enterovirus infections can produce severe symptoms and, in many cases, they can kill. Now, from this discovery, new antiviral medicines could emerge capable of taking on these enteroviruses.
The best known enterovirus is the polio virus. This triggers poliomyelitis, while other members of the enterovirus family can cause childhood meningitis. Contaminated water is the typical enterovirus distribution path, with the viruses passing from person to person via faeces.
Prozac is the flagship trade-name for fluoxetine - an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor)-class drug that's been around since the 1970s. Despite its age, fluoxetine remains an exceptionally popular drug, with more than 24 million prescriptions written out in 2010 by US doctors alone.
Prozac Anti-Viral Properties
According to a paper now published by Los Angeles' University of California, fluoxetine is an effective viral replication inhibitor. In other words, it can stop viruses from spreading and this is the first time Prozac's anti-viral properties have been uncovered.
"The discovery of unexpected antiviral activity of fluoxetine is scientifically very significant and draws our attention to previously overlooked potential targets of fluoxetine and other psychogenic drugs", Robert Damoiseaux - scientific director at California NanoSystems Institute's Molecular Screening Shared Resource - explained in a University of California press release. He continued: "Part of our follow-up work will be the discovery of these unconventional targets for fluoxetine and other drugs of the same class and how these targets intersect with the known targets of this drug class."
The team's findings, added colleague Paul Krogstad, "will add to our understanding of enterovirus replication and lead to assessment of their potential clinical utility for the future treatment of serious enterovirus infections."
Further details of the Prozac anti-viral properties research appear in the current edition of the Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy journal.
Image copyright Tom Varco - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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