Scientists neutralise Ebola virus for the first time

Scientists neutralise Ebola virus for the first time

Scientists have discovered how to neutralise Ebola and related pathogens using a new study with human and mouse antibodies.

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute, USA  have conducted two new studies on the weaknesses of the Ebola virus, and have shown how human and mouse antibodies are able to bind to the virus, so that they neutralise Ebola.

The challenges of treating Ebola

The Ebola virus has been notoriously difficult to treat because it is made up of five pathogens rather than one. Each of the viruses in the genus called Ebolavirus has up to a 50% difference in amino acid sequence. Therefore, treating Ebola has not been as simple as developing one treatment for the virus. The senior author of the new papers and Professor at Scripps, Dr Erica Ollman Saphire, said: “This is like understanding how to kill five or six birds with one stone.” It is also possible that all members of the genus could mutate which would make the drug therapies unsuccessful. The ability to neutralise Ebola in all of its pathogen forms is essential in discovering a universal therapeutic which is successful.

How to neutralise Ebola

The researchers used the human antibody ADI015879 to neutralise ebola, which was found in the blood of an Ebola virus survivor. They used a technique called X-ray crystallography to model the interaction between this antibody and the viral glycoprotein which enables the virus to infect the body. The Ebola glycoprotein is covered with sugar to disable the body’s immune system from detecting it. The new research showed that the antibody can bind to the virus and neutralise Ebola by bind directly to one of the sugars. This presents a development in the progress towards a possible universal therapy for Ebola caused by all five types of the genus.

Can this be used in Ebola therapeutics?

The researchers say that there is potential for future therapeutics to include antibodies like the ADI-15878, or to design similar molecules for Ebola vaccines.

Saphire added: “We’re hot on the trail of immunogen design strategies to produce more of these neutralizing antibodies.”

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