Saturday, February 28, 2015

New technique in the fight against filoviruses

A team of researchers at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has uncovered a cross-reactive antibody that binds to Marburg virus, an equally lethal cousin of Ebola virus. By growing crystals on the antibody (attached to its viral target) and using x-ray diffraction, the team produced three-dimensional images of the antibody-virus interaction (cool image below). Though the antibody specifically targets Marburg virus, the team believes the antibody to be cross-reactive with related viruses (including Ebola viruses).

This study represents the first time that Marburg's glycoprotein has been seen in its infectious state, and may help unlock novel techniques in the development of therapeutics against Marburg virus and other filoviruses. With the proper engineering, one could hypothetically use the antibody to target and bind Ebola virus and other filoviruses to prevent host cell entry and infection.

Marburg virus (purple) and Ebola virus (blue) interactions with antibodies

-Nick Simon

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