Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ability to Keep Ebola Out of Human Cells?

As we learned in lecture, there is no cure or vaccine for the Ebola virus. But a new research being done at the University of Illinois at Chicago recently discovered a family of small molecules that have the ability to bind to the outer protein coat of the virus that would prevent it form entering human cells.

The two main researchers are Duncan Wardop and Lijun Rong, which created a screening system that uses a chimeric HIV-Ebola virus bearing the protein coat of the Ebola virus. Since the real Ebola virus causes a deadly hemorrhagic fever in humans, the researchers used a chimera which looked like Ebola but won't be life-threatening for the scientists. The researchers said that the lead compound also inhibits Marburg.

Even though the researchers cannot say whether or not there will be a new treatment for Ebola or Marburg infections, these results give the researchers hope. The next steps are to test them on animal models to see if the small-molecule treatments are effective. But overall these discoveries are extremely exciting.


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