SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

Real-time system monitors Ebola through a microscope

The laboratory evaluates Ebola’s first stages of infection. | File photo

Scientists recently published an article in mBio, a journal from the American Society for Microbiology, that suggests the first real-time system can monitor Ebola through a microscope while the Ebola-like virus particles infect and bond with human cells.

"The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic caused a regional health emergency in West Africa, shattering the healthcare infrastructure there and causing more than 11,000 deaths," Kartik Chandran, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said. "But we don't know when and where the next outbreak will occur. There is a serious need for treatments that protect against Ebola and related viruses."

The laboratory evaluates Ebola’s first stages of infection. The scientists watch the virus invade the cell, which the virus must do to replicate itself and spread throughout the body.

Similar to other viruses, Ebola convinces cells to eat themselves. Then, the virus sends the cell to the endosome, which typically recycles the cell; in this case, Ebola takes over the regular functions to make the dead cell its own.

"This entire entry step is rich in targets for developing antiviral treatments," Chandran said.

The discoveries yielded from this microscopic method could help scientists to find important host cell and viral proteins that are involved in the process. This, in turn, could help researchers develop new vaccines or drugs to prevent the spread of this disease in the future.

Organizations in this story

American Society for Microbiology 1752 N St NW Washington, DC 20036

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