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Treatment for Ebola Virus
before March 9, 2006


Ebola virus is one of the most dangerous viruses known to the humanity. Most people, who catch Ebola fever, die, and still there’s no cure for this cruel disease. Scientists of State Science Centre of Virology and Biotechnology “Vector” have made a significant move towards fighting the virus. They isolated bacteriophages, which carry Ebola virus antibodies on their surface. The researchers plan to use these antibodies for studying viral properties, and later on for disease diagnostics and treatment.

Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever, i.e. fever together with internal hemorrhages and bloody rash. The fever is followed by hepatic, lung and other organs’ necrosis (death), thus high mortality (53-88%) is common for Ebola epidemics. The scientists still know little about how the virus causes such heavy complications. They also do not know the mechanisms of survival after the disease. There is no effective treatment against this group of viruses: interferons and antivirals of systemic effect are not effective, and specific drugs or vaccine still do not exist. However, injecting antiviral antibodies can relieve the course of the disease. This fact was shown during the experiments of Russian scientists on monkeys. Antibodies against Ebola virus appeared to be most effective among drugs available. We are not talking about clinical trials of a new drug – antibodies still need to be isolated.

Antibodies are proteins, appearing in blood in response to infection. To get antibodies, one introduces virus to blood of an animal and then uses its blood serum. Monkeys have received horse serum, but to cure people we need human antibodies. Since we do not produce serum out of people, we need other methods. Traditional biotechnology techniques are ineffective in this case. New molecular biology technique, phage display, came to relief. The idea of the technique is that bacteriophages – bacterial viruses – are used to produce antibodies.

Bacteriophages are very simply organized – genome, coated by a protein. There exists a library of bacteriophages, constructed by means of genetic engineering, which contain genes of all kinds of human antibodies; thus these antibodies, being the result of gene work, are included in bacteriophage protein coat, i.e. lie on the surface. The scientists only have to choose a phage, containing required antibodies, which they already did, while studying interactions between bacteriophages and Ebola viral proteins, and later between bacteriophages and Ebola virus itself. Thus they have chosen bacteriophages, carrying antibodies for various Ebola viral proteins on their surface. Scientists plan to use these antibodies for studying viral properties, and later on for immunotherapy and Ebola fever diagnostics.

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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