Ebola virus reproduction in laboratory-grown cells is severely hampered by enzyme-inhibiting chemicals, and these chemicals deserve further study as possible treatments for Ebola virus infections in humans, report scientists supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The researchers, whose paper is published online in Science Express, identified two cellular enzymes Ebola virus must have to reproduce. When those enzymes are blocked, the virus loses most of its infectivity, the scientists found.
Ebola virus, like the Marburg virus now alarming Angola, is a filovirus, a family of viruses that cause severe and frequently fatal hemorrhagic fevers. Finding medical countermeasures for viral hemorrhagic fevers is a global public health priority because not only do these diseases occur naturally, but they also have the potential to be unleashed by bioterrorists, says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
This new research sheds light on the mechanism Ebola virus uses to enter cells, notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. These findings raise the possibility of a broad-spectrum antiviral therapy that could be effective against multiple hemorrhagic fever viruses.
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