Study identifies 'Achilles heel' of Ebola: 3 things to know

An international team of scientists has identified the molecular "Achilles' heel" of the deadly Ebola virus.

Here are three things to know about the study and findings.

1. The team was comprised of numerous researchers, including scientists from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Md.

2. Using mice, the researchers found that the Ebola virus can't infect cells unless it first attaches to a host protein called Niemann-Pick C1, or NPC1, in membrane compartments called lysosomes deep within cells. One of the co-study leaders called NPC1 Ebola's "Achilles' heel."

3. The study found mice deficient in NPC1 were completely resistant to infection, suggesting that drugs blocking virus entry to the NPC1 protein could protect against Ebola infection. Such a treatment may also block the cholesterol transport pathway in humans, but the researchers claim the treatment could be tolerated.

"Ideally, future research in humans, based on these findings, will lead to the development of antiviral drugs that can effectively target NPC1 and prevent infection not just by Ebola, but also by other highly virulent filoviruses, which also require NPC1 as a receptor," said co-study leader Kartik Chandran, PhD, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and the Harold and Muriel Block Faculty Scholar in Virology at Einstein.



More articles on Ebola:
Judge extends restraining order in Ebola nurse Nina Pham's case
Ebola found in eye of American after he was declared Ebola-free: 7 things to know
CDC investigates possible sexual transmission of Ebola virus


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