Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists block Ebola infection in cell-culture experiments

25.06.2009
Accomplishment could lead to first therapy for deadly disease

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered two biochemical pathways that the Ebola virus relies on to infect cells. Using substances that block the activation of those pathways, they've prevented Ebola infection in cell culture experiments — potentially providing a critical early step in developing the first successful therapy for the deadly virus.

Ebola inflicts severe and often fatal hemorrhagic fever on its victims, producing 90 percent mortality rates in some outbreaks. No vaccine exists for the virus, and it is considered a high-risk agent for bioterrorism. Natural Ebola outbreaks strike periodically, often with devastating effect; recent examples include outbreaks in Uganda in 2008 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2007.

The UTMB team took a new approach to stopping viral infection, using powerful new computational and analytical techniques to focus more on the host cell than the virus, according to microbiology and immunology associate professor Robert Davey.

"The premise for this work is that the virus is essentially nothing without a cell," said Davey, lead author of a paper on the research appearing this month in the journal Drug Discovery Research. "It needs to rely on many cell proteins and factors for it to replicate. The idea is that if we can suppress the expression of those cell proteins for just a short time, we can then stop the disease in its tracks."

To identify the critical proteins, the UTMB researchers — including research scientist Andrey A. Kolokoltsov, assistant professor Mohammad F. Saeed, postdoctoral fellow Alexander N. Freiberg and assistant professor Michael R. Holbrook — first conducted large-scale screening experiments using sets of cells treated with small interfering RNA (siRNA) to block 735 different genes that might produce proteins important to Ebola infection. They then added Ebola "pseudotype" viruses, artificially created virus particles made by wrapping Ebola envelope proteins around a core of genetic material from another virus. (The resulting viruses behave just like Ebola when infecting a cell, but are safe enough to work with in an ordinary lab.)

"We got a number of hits, quite a lot of places where the virus wasn't infecting the cells," Davey said. "The problem was then to understand what those hits meant."

To make sense of the data, the researchers turned to a newly developed statistical algorithm designed especially to prioritize the results of siRNA screens. After subjecting that output to further computational analysis, they found that two networks of biochemical reactions seemed particularly important to Ebola's entry into cells: The PI3 kinase pathway and the CAMK2 pathway. Since drugs to block both pathways are available, the UTMB group decided to investigate whether they would interfere with Ebola infection of cells — first using virus pseudotypes, and then, in UTMB's maximum containment BSL4 "spacesuit" lab, with Ebola Zaire itself, the variety of the virus most associated with high mortality rates.

"With the real virus in the BSL4, we found that the PI3 kinase inhibitor dropped virus titers by 65 percent, and if we used drugs which block CAMK2 function, it was just killed — stopped dead," Davey said. "This is really, very, very interesting because this pathway has a lot of potential for future pharmaceutical exploitation."

Jim Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utmb.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bioenergy cropland expansion could be as bad for biodiversity as climate change
11.12.2018 | Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseen

nachricht How glial cells develop in the brain from neural precursor cells
11.12.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor

11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Topological material switched off and on for the first time

11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs

11.12.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>