Researchers inhibit Ebola virus

December 29, 2017, University of Copenhagen
Researchers inhibit Ebola virus
Credit: University of Copenhagen

The incurable Ebola virus has long been feared due to its high mortality rate and danger of infection. Now researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Phillips Universität Marburg have succeeded in inhibiting the virus in cell cultures. The researchers hope to be able to continue doing animal testing and developing an actual drug.

A single enzyme. That is all the behind a new study need to manipulate to prevent the feared Ebola from spreading. Because with the enzyme they also take away the virus' ability to copy itself and thus produce more and more infection.

The study has been published in the scientific journal Molecular Cell and was conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Phillips Universität Marburg in Germany.

'When the Ebola virus enters the human cell, its only purpose is to copy itself, fast. First it must copy all its proteins, then its genetic material. But by inhibiting a specific enzyme we rob the Ebola virus of its ability to copy itself. And that may potentially prevent an Ebola infection from spreading', says Professor Jakob Nilsson from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research.

A few years ago the Ebola virus ravaged West Africa, where thousands of people died from the extremely infectious Ebola infection. Once you are infected, all you can do is hope that your own immune system is able to kill the infection. Because there is currently no available treatment.

However, the researchers behind the new study have found what is called a new host factor for Ebola virus. It can be described as a small part of the host's - for example the human body's - own cells, which the Ebola virus uses to copy itself and produce more infection.

The virus uses the host factor enzyme PP2A-B56 to start producing proteins. So if the researchers switch off PP2A-B56, the virus' ability to copy itself and produce more infection is never 'switched on'.

'When we inhibit the PP2A-B56 enzyme, we remove the first link in a long process, which ends with Ebola spreading. And we can tell that it works. The Ebola infection in cell cultures where we have inhibited the PP2A-B56 enzyme is 10 times smaller after 24 hours compared to infections where we have not inhibited this enzyme', says Jakob Nilsson.

But because the researchers have so far focussed on , there is still work to be done before their results can be used to treat people infected with Ebola. Initially the researchers hope to be able to test it on animals and, in the long term, develop a drug that inhibits the relevant .

The potential of the new discovery may turn out to work on other viruses too, because the structure of Ebola virus is very similar to the other so-called filoviruses, Lloviu virus and Marburg virus. But whether the same mechanisms apply to them too still needs to be uncovered.

Explore further: Super cell to contain deadly Ebola virus discovered in Australia

More information: Thomas Kruse et al, The Ebola Virus Nucleoprotein Recruits the Host PP2A-B56 Phosphatase to Activate Transcriptional Support Activity of VP30, Molecular Cell (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.11.034

Related Stories

Super cell to contain deadly Ebola virus discovered in Australia

July 18, 2017
A super cell in the eye has been discovered that can stop the deadly Ebola virus.

Silence is golden—Suppressing host response to Ebola virus may help to control infection

March 22, 2017
The Ebola virus causes a severe, often fatal illness when it infects the human body. Initially targeting cells of the immune system called macrophages, white blood cells that absorb and clear away pathogens, a new study has ...

Researchers identify novel way to target Ebola

September 26, 2017
Researchers have identified a potential new way to attack Ebola. Scientists have discovered that a protein called Tim-1 (T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 1) plays a key role in the development of ...

Ebola-like Marburg virus kills two in Uganda: official

October 19, 2017
Two people have died from the Marburg virus in eastern Uganda, in the country's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola-like pathogen in three years, the health ministry said Thursday.

Responders to recent West Africa Ebola epidemic show little evidence of infection

May 16, 2017
Responders to the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 who returned to the UK and Ireland included many who reported possible Ebola virus exposure or Ebola-associated symptoms, according to a new study published in PLOS ...

Recommended for you

Reconstructing Zika's spread

May 24, 2018
The urgent threat from Zika virus, which dominated news headlines in the spring and summer of 2016, has passed for now. But research into how Zika and other mosquito-borne infections spread and cause epidemics is still very ...

Molecular network boosts drug resistance and virulence in hospital-acquired bacterium

May 24, 2018
In response to antibiotics, a gene regulation network found in the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii acts to boost both virulence and antibiotic resistance. Edward Geisinger of Tufts University School of Medicine and colleagues ...

Past use of disinfectants and PPE for Ebola could inform future outbreaks

May 24, 2018
Data from the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak at two Sierra Leone facilities reveal daily usage rates for disinfectant and personal protective equipment, informing future outbreaks, according to a study published May 24, 2018 in ...

Tick bite protection: New CDC study adds to the promise of permethrin-treated clothing

May 24, 2018
The case for permethrin-treated clothing to prevent tick bites keeps getting stronger.

Early lactate measurements appear to improve results for septic patients

May 24, 2018
On October 1, 2015, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bundle of recommendations defining optimal treatment of patients suffering from sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection ...

Dengue: Investigating antibodies to identify at-risk individuals

May 23, 2018
Using an original mathematical and statistical analysis method, a team of scientists from the Institut Pasteur partnered with researchers from the United States and Thailand to analyze a Thai cohort that has long been a focus ...

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.