MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Gamma interferon protects mice from Ebola virus

Scientists target hos and not flu virus find successful new treatment in mice | Courtesy of wikimedia.org
University of Iowa scientists recently used gamma interferon, a drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to protect mice from the Ebola virus.

The protected mice received gamma interferon exactly 24 hours before they were exposed and an additional 24 hours after they were exposed to the virus.

The Ebola outbreak, which was primarily based in West Africa, caused more than 11,300 deaths. Even though there has been significant progress in creating vaccines, the health community still needs antiviral therapies to provide health care workers as well as local residents with protection if there are future outbreaks.

"It goes from an early stage with a very targeted infection of only these few cell types, to everything being infected," Wendy Maury, virologist and professor of microbiology in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, said. "We think what's happening with gamma interferon is that it's targeting macrophages and blocking the infection of those initial cell targets so you don't get the second round of infection."

Ebola infections begin when the virus infects dendritic cells (also known as macrophages), which are two kinds of cells that are part of the immune system. These are commonly found in the lymph nodes, liver and spleen. Ebola replicates itself within the dendritic cells to take over the body.

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