Scientists in race to find deadly Ebola virus' Achilles Heel
As the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, the scientists are trying to find a cure and believe that virus' deceptively simple structure is a key to taming it.
Washington: As the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, the scientists are trying to find a cure and believe that virus' deceptively simple structure is a key to taming it.
According to an article in Chemical and Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the scientists are undertaking multiple strategies, some of which are being fast-tracked for human testing to find that key.
Senior editors Lisa M. Jarvis and Bethany Halford noted that the Ebola virus is endowed with a mere seven genes that code for eight proteins and although few in number, the proteins each have many functions, which allow the virus to commandeer nearly 70 proteins from a person it infects.
They said that to fight this highly efficient virus, scientists are taking several approaches, designing antibodies to prevent the virus from attaching to host cells, working on small molecules to attack the virus at various stages of its life cycle and are also starting clinical trials on antiviral drugs that are already approved to treat other kinds of infections.
If developed quickly enough, an effective treatment could curb the current outbreak. It could also potentially spare the world from future epidemics. But as some scientists point out, drugs and vaccines take years to tailor into safe and effective therapies, so it's essential the efforts continue long after this crisis passes.