June 29, 2009

Ebola infection blocked in cell experiment

University of Texas scientists say they have blocked Ebola infections in cell culture experiments, an achievement that may lead to a therapy for the disease.

The researchers at the university's Medical Branch said they discovered two biochemical pathways the Ebola virus relies on to infect cells. Using substances that block the activation of those pathways, the scientists prevented Ebola infection in the cell cultures.

Associate Professor Robert Davey, lead author of the study, said the team used new computational and analytical techniques to focus more on the host cell than the virus.

The premise for this work is that the virus is essentially nothing without a cell, said Davey. It needs to rely on many cell proteins and factors for it to replicate. The idea is that if we can suppress the expression of those cell proteins for just a short time, we can then stop the disease in its tracks.

The study is detailed in the journal Drug Discovery Research.