Researchers Find Potential Target for Ebola Treatment

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to expand and around the world researchers are striving to learn more about the disease and how to stop it to ensure that any future outbreaks of the virus are not nearly as severe.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to expand and around the world researchers are striving to learn more about the disease and how to stop it to ensure that any future outbreaks of the virus are not nearly as severe.

A press release from the American Chemical Society announced that work was underway to develop a vaccine for the Sudan strain of the Ebola virus. While this is not the strain currently responsible for the death of more than 1000 people on the African continent, it is one of the five known strains that do not have any approved treatment methods.

John Dye, PhD, and colleagues used an antibody to the Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV) that Dye’s team previously developed using mouse models. They hypothesized that “the human immune system could potentially recognize that antibody as foreign and ultimately get rid of it, preventing the antibody from treating the body,” the press release noted. This led to efforts to develop a “humanized” version.

As part of their work, the team put the “Ebola-specific” part of the antibody from a mouse on a human antibody scaffold, the statement reported. They were then able to change some portions of the molecule for the current study. As a result, the team reported finding two versions that were resistant to the Sudan strain on cells and in mice used for the test.

“These antibodies represent strong immunotherapeutic candidates for the treatment of SUDV infections,” the authors noted.

Although these study results hold promise for the development of an Ebola vaccine in the future, they won’t do much to help current victims of the Ebola outbreak because, as the release notes, “antibodies that kill off one strain of the virus haven’t worked against other strains.”

Study authors received funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.