Study shows Ebola mutations can evade antibiotic treatments

Drug treatments ineffective against Ebola virus mutations | Courtesy of
The deadly Ebola virus has genetic mutations, or “escape variants,” that evade the antibody-based treatments that are designed to fight infection.

According to a team comprised of US Army scientists as well as collaborators, this finding could impact the ongoing creation of therapeutics that are used to treat the Ebola virus.

The Ebola virus infects people by overwhelming their immune system and its ability to ward away infections. One method to treat the virus is to use “cocktail” antibodies that broadly neutralize the virus, helping the immune system to make a defense. A recent candidate treatment for the virus has shown that it is ineffective in controlling the virus and helping the body.

"The molecular analysis allowed us to see where the cocktails were inducing changes in the genome, and to link those changes to the treatment failure," CPT Jeffrey Kugelman, Ph.D., of USAMRIID, co-first author of the study, said. "When this rescued virus was sequenced, we observed that the clusters of changes had progressed from affecting a small portion of the viral population to becoming mutations--permanent changes in the genome--without disrupting any major viral functions, including the ability to cause infection."

Since 2014, the Ebola virus has killed more than 11,000 people living in West Africa. Creating a treatment would benefit countless people.

Further details are available online in the Cell Reports journal.

Organizations in this story

U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) 1425 Porter Street Frederick, MD - 21702-5011

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