Sunday, November 20, 2011

Promising news for potential Ebolavirus vaccine

Just today, Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute and the US Army's Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have reported their findings regarding an antibody that is able to neutralize Sudan virus, one of the major species of Ebolaviruses (which is part of Filoviridae), through its particular way of attaching to the virus. It has been seen that the antibody tends to "link" two segments of the viral coat protein, thus blocking the freedom of movement or in other words, paralyzing the virus, and enabling it from infecting a cell. This protein-linking mechanism was also found to be the strategy of another neutralizing antibody, which is effective against the Ebola-Zaire virus, which is more commonly known.
These two viruses, the Sudan and Ebola-Zaire virus, were first discovered as they caused significant outbreaks in Sudan and Zaire (today's Democratic Republic of Congo), in 1976. They resulted in serious cases of hemorrhagic fevers, killing about 90% of those that had been infected. Up to this day, there has been no vaccines against these viruses, although one was developed from Ebola and Sudan viral proteins to provide protection against these viruses in monkeys. However, it is unclear whether these vaccines would work in humans.
Thus, these new findings could open the door to a potential vaccine or antibody-based therapies to protect against these dangerous Ebolaviruses.

Have a great break everyone!

- Julie Saffarian

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