Study Discovers How Ebola Virus Blocks The Bodys' Antiviral Defenses

First Posted: Aug 29, 2014 05:45 PM EDT

As new Ebola infections take hold, researchers continue to look for a cure.

Now, scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., have discovered how the virus dodges the body's antiviral defenses, blocking the immune system; this may provide important inside into potential new target therapies and treatments for the illness, according to a news release

For their findings, researchers worked at Beamline 19ID at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source to develop a detailed map of how a non-pathogenic Ebola protein works, otherwise known as VP24. They studied how it binds to a host protein that takes signaling molecules both in and out of the cell nucleus.

The map revealed just how viral protein takes away the host protein's ability to carry an important immune signal via the nucleus, which activates the immune system's antiviral defenses. Furthermore, scientists predict that this block significantly contributes to the scale of the virus's deadly components.

While much is still unknown about the deadly Ebola virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,300 since its discovery, according to CNN Health, new research brings hope for future cases. 

The Ebola virus, formerly referred to as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is very severe, potentially contagious, and has a 90 percent fatality rate in humans, with most of the reported cases primarily found in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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