Sugar could be used to fight Ebola, Lassa and Marburg

According to a new report appearing in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, a modified form of a simple sugar may be able to stop deadly viruses, including Ebola, Lassa and Marburg.

The compound, known as chlorite-oxidized oxyamylose, could become a therapeutic option because it enhances early-stage immune defenses and is derived through readily obtainable sources, reports.

"We modified and purified a safe drug from natural sources and discovered how it can protect against deadly virus infections," Ghislain Opdenakker said, according to

Opdenakker is a researcher for the study, which was conducted by the Laboratory of Immunobiology at the Rega Institute for Medical Research and the University of Leuven in Belgium.

In the study, researchers found that half of the mice injected with an unpurified version of the compound survived infection with viruses that would normally kill within a week. When injected with a purified version of the compound, that number rose to 90 percent.

The results suggest that the purified version of the compound almost completely blocked the viruses by speeding the response of the body’s fast-acting immune cells, or leucocytes.

"This is an exciting discovery because it offers hope that we will finally be able to really do something about some of the world's deadliest viruses - rapidly mobilizing antiviral immune cells is critical in the race between these killer viruses and the host," John Wherry, deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, said, according to "The fact that this compound comes from something as abundant as sugar just sweetens the findings."