Antibody developed against Ebola virus

New discovery site opens up opportunity for vaccine against all Ebola strains

Ebola virus © CDC
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Researchers have first discovered an antibody that kills the deadly Sudan strain of the Ebola virus. The antibody prevents the virus from getting inside the cells. This opens a way to develop a vaccine against the disease, researchers report in the journal "Nature Structural and Molecular Biology".

The Sudan strain of the mainly in Africa spread virus accounts for about half of all known Ebola outbreaks. So far there is no vaccine against him and against other strains of the Ebola virus.

"We suspect that we have found a key site for the neutralization of Ebola viruses, " says study leader Erica Ollmann Saphire of the Scripps Institution in La Jolla, California. In their study, the researchers discovered that the antibody 16F6 they developed attaches to and binds two proteins to the surface of the virus. As a result, the function of these proteins is blocked and the virus can no longer get inside the cell, the researchers report. Instead, it remains trapped in small membrane bubbles and is destroyed by the cell.

Two antibodies, one strategy

"The binding site of the antibody 16F6 is one of the few sites where the viral proteins of Ebola are vulnerable, " says Ollmann Saphire. This apparently applies not only to the Sudan tribe, but also to Ebola-Zaire and other strains of the deadly virus. In another study, the researchers had already developed antibodies against the Ebola-Zaire strain, which also started there. "It is no coincidence, in our view, that the two different antibodies developed against two different Ebola viruses use the same strategy, " say the researchers.

The newly discovered vulnerability could drive the development of vaccines and therapies for the deadly viral disease. "It helps us understand better where a vaccine against Ebola must start, " says Ollmann sapphires. display

Ebola is 90 percent deadly

Ebola viruses are among the deadliest viruses worldwide. They trigger a fever associated with severe internal bleeding and kill 90 percent of the patients. The viruses are transmitted via body fluids and tiny fluid droplets in the exhaled air.

The search for a vaccine against Ebola has been hampered by the fact that there are five different strains of the pathogen. Of these, the Sudan tribe and Ebola-Zaire are responsible for most illnesses and deaths. "These species differ so widely that antibodies that help against one do not protect against the other, " says Ollmann Saphire.

Virus well protected against immune defense

In addition, the virus is well protected against attacks of the body's immune system: "The virus is like a wolf in sheep's clothing, because its outer skin is covered with human sugar molecules, the normal Antik Do not look at people as foreign, "says the researcher.

The only known weak point seems to be the binding site of the now developed antibody 16F6. "There might be other sites of attack for the Ebola viruses, but so far this is the only one we have found, " says Ollmann Sapphire.

Both in cell cultures and in experiments with M habeusen the antibody has prevented the proliferation of the Ebola virus, the researchers report. Of the infected mice, significantly less and died significantly later. The aim now is to develop a vaccine based on these findings. (Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 2011; doi: 10.1038 / nsmb.2150)

(Nature Structural and Molecular Biology / dapd, 22.11.2011 - NPO)