Who wouldn't have known about Ebola?
A deadly virus that can kill 6 in 10 people within just a week or two after contact, it's something people have been warned of. This virus destroys cells and organs at the same time, directly attacking the immune system as it targets cell components like lysosomes and endosomes.
But recently, researchers have discovered two antibodies that can inactivate all of the five strains of the Ebola virus- all from the blood of a survivor in West Africa. (Woah, from human survivor!) These prevent the virus from binding to a protein called NPC1, which halts the virus from replicating and spreading.
To further study these, researchers have injected mice and ferrets with each strain of the virus followed by the antibodies. This yielded the same result- animals were protected from the virus.
The antibodies joins along with the virus into the endosome, acting like a Trojan horse, Kartik Chandran, one of the authors of the study
, describes. Ebola can change its shape which allows it to evade the immune system. However, those antibodies bind to the virus tightly which consequently prevents it from changing its shape. Chandran says this process is unique because of how effective it attacks the virus.
“If the described antibody turns out to be protective in non-human primates this will certainly be a candidate for a prophylactic vaccine for humans which could be given…to health care personnel shortly before they are deployed to an Ebola virus outbreak. This would be especially important if the exact Ebola virus species causing the outbreak is not known," says Stephan Becker, an Ebola researcher at the University of Marburg who wasn't involved in the research.
Chandran said that he doesn't see the research being used as a vaccine, but rather as a therapeutic technique to people who were likely exposed. The researchers are also collaborating with Mapp Biopharmaceutical to possibly release the antibodies to the public in the coming years.