From: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Published May 24, 2017 09:19 AM

Scientists gain better understanding of how Ebola disables people's immune defenses

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston scientists have unlocked mysteries of how the Ebola virus hampers the body’s natural defenses to speed the rate of infection and its accompanying lethal disease, according to a new report in PLOS Pathogens. The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of Washington and The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Specifically, the researchers found that the Ebola virus binds directly to white blood cells (critical to the immune system) leading to their death.

“There are experimental Ebola vaccines and therapies being tested in clinical trials, but none have received final approval yet,” said senior author Alexander Bukreyev, a UTMB virologist in the departments of pathology and microbiology & immunology. “Understanding how the invading Ebola virus shuts down the host’s immune systems is a very important step in developing targeted therapies for Ebola virus disease.”

When someone is infected with Ebola, his or her lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell that is an important part of the immune system – quickly disappear. This issue is often seen in patients who succumb to the disease, whereas people who survive have been shown to maintain lymphocyte levels throughout the course of the disease.

Read more at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Image: Senior Alexander Bukreyev is shown. (Credit: The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston)

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