Crucial research in development of promising Ebola virus treatment

August 6, 2014

Laboratories at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) are investigating antibodies to fight Ebola virus, including the three antibodies recently used to treat two American health care workers infected with the Ebola virus.

The conditions of two Americans have reportedly improved since they received a highly experimental antibody cocktail called ZMapp, supplied by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical.

The TSRI laboratories of Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire and Assistant Professor Andrew Ward are studying the structures of these antibodies using techniques called electron microscopy, which creates high-resolution images by hitting samples with electrons, and X-ray crystallography, which determines the atomic structure of crystalline arrays of proteins. Through these images, the team will discover exactly how the immune system molecules bind to the Ebola virus and stop it from functioning, a critical step in drug development.

Ebola virus causes an extremely virulent disease that currently leads to death in 25 to 90 percent of cases. The fast-moving virus is spread via the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person,

"What we're showing are sites of vulnerability on the surface of the virus," said C. Daniel Murin, a graduate student in the Saphire and Ward labs. "These are the chinks in the armor of the virus and the places were you would want your anti-serum to target."

The ZMapp treatment is still in experimental stages and has not yet been approved for use outside the two recent cases. According to Saphire, ZMapp is one of the best antibody cocktails currently known, but there may still be ways to improve it. She is currently leading a $28 million National Institutes of Health-funded consortium to test antibody cocktails from laboratories around the world, with the goal of finding the best for neutralizing Ebola virus and the many other viruses like it.

An ideal antibody cocktail would ease symptoms and improve the prognosis of infected individuals—it could even work as a preventative measure, protecting healthcare workers before they enter an infected area.

The work on the Ebola is part of a larger Vaccine and Global Health Initiative at TSRI, which includes research on HIV/AIDS, influenza and tuberculosis.

Explore further: Biodesign researcher helped develop tobacco-based platform for Ebola vaccine development

Related Stories

Biodesign researcher helped develop tobacco-based platform for Ebola vaccine development

August 6, 2014
Charlie Arntzen has worked tirelessly on new platforms to deliver vaccines. He has focused on plant-based vaccine delivery systems, testing a wide range of plants as possible "manufacturing platforms" for vaccines for the ...

Experimental Ebola drug is hard to make, expert says

August 5, 2014
An experimental drug given to two American patients with Ebola is made from tobacco leaves and is hard to produce on a large scale, a leading US doctor said Tuesday.

5 things to know about Ebola outbreak in W. Africa

July 28, 2014
(AP)—There has been panic and fear about the deadly Ebola disease spreading ever since Nigerian health officials reported Friday that a Liberian man sick with the disease had traveled to Togo and then Nigeria before dying. ...

Nigeria confirms five more Ebola cases, seven in total, 2 deaths

August 6, 2014
Nigeria on Wednesday confirmed five new cases of Ebola in Lagos and a second death from the virus, bringing the total number of infections in sub-Saharan Africa's largest city to seven.

US woman with Ebola arrives in Atlanta for treatment

August 5, 2014
An American woman infected with the dangerous Ebola virus arrived at a US military base in Atlanta, Georgia, on Tuesday and is headed for treatment at a specially equipped hospital.

Sierra Leone warns of contact with Ebola infected

June 27, 2014
Sierra Leone warned Friday that it is a serious crime to shelter someone infected with the ebola virus.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.