Tuesday 21 October 2014

Breakthrough in hunt for cure for deadly Ebola virus

Isobel Markham

Published 14/08/2014 | 02:30

Doctors work in a Biosafety Level III laboratory at the National Institute of Health in Lima, Peru
Doctors work in a Biosafety Level III laboratory at the National Institute of Health in Lima, Peru
A doctor rests during a media presentation of a Biosafety Level III laboratory at the National Institute of Health in Lima, Peru
A doctor rests during a media presentation of a Biosafety Level III laboratory at the National Institute of Health in Lima, Peru
Health workers take passengers' temperatures infrared digital laser thermometers at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan
Health workers take passengers' temperatures infrared digital laser thermometers at the Felix Houphouet Boigny international airport in Abidjan

Scientists have discovered how the Ebola virus disables the body's immune response, in a discovery that should help the search for potential cures and vaccines.

Researchers from American institutions found that Ebola carries a protein called VP24, which interferes with a molecule called interferon that is vital to the immune response.

"Figuring out how VP24 promotes this disruption will suggest new ways to defeat the virus," said Dr Chris Basler, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

The World Health Organisation yesterday reported 128 new Ebola cases and 56 deaths in West Africa in the two days to Aug 11, raising the death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the disease to 1,069.

Officials in Sierra Leone confirmed the death of a second doctor at the hands of the virus. Dr Modupeh Cole, a senior physician at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, was diagnosed with Ebola last Friday. His death came two week after Sierra Leone's sole virologist, Dr Umar Khan, died from the virus after successfully treating more than 100 patients.

Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone's president, appealed to the international community for help in raising an extra pounds €13 million to fund a "national response plan" to fight the epidemic.

Meanwhile yesterday the World Health Organisation(WHO) on Wednesday reported 128 new Ebola cases and 56 deaths in West Africa in the two days to August 11, raising the death toll from the worst ever outbreak of the disease to 1,069.

Since the outbreak was identified in March, there have been a total of 1,975 confirmed, probable and suspected Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

A consignment of experimental Ebola drugs arrived by 
plane in Liberia yesterday to treat two doctors suffering from the virus, (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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