New study maps out how Ebola virus blocks immune system

02 September 2014

US-based researchers say they have discovered how the Ebola virus blocks the human body's antiviral defences, providing an important insight that could lead to new therapies in treating the deadly disease.

In a research performed at Beamline 19ID at Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source department, the researchers developed a detailed map of how a non-pathogenic Ebola protein, VP24, binds to a host protein that takes signalling molecules in and out of the cell nucleus.

Their map revealed that the viral protein takes away the host protein's ability to carry an important immune signal into the nucleus.

This signal helps activate the immune system's antiviral defences, and blocking it is believed to contribute significantly to the virus's deadliness.

The research is published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

According to the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), as of 26 August, the current deadliest outbreak of the West Africa-origin disease has killed a total of 1,552 people and infected 3,062.

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