It became an iconic drug that entered pop cultural folklore, but fluoxetine, marketed as Prozac, has put a smile on the faces of researchers for a purpose other than the treatment of depression. Studies carried out at UCLA have found that fluoxetine is a promising antiviral agent, particularly for enteroviruses that can be a cause of death in several parts of the world.
Using molecular screening, the multidisciplinary team of researchers found that fluoxetine worked as a potent inhibitor of coxsackievirus, one of the enteroviruses that include polio, encephalitis, and echovirus found in the gastro intestinal tract. Human enteroviruses are part of a genus comprising more than 100 distinct RNA viruses, which create a window for opportunistic infections and diseases. There are no antiviral drugs for enterovirus infections.