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Antibodies fight Ebola virus in mouse test

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4:25pm, September 6, 2002

In the 1995 movie Outbreak, an infectious disease of African origin ravages a fictional California town. Easily spread by coughing or sneezing, the ailment causes fever, hemorrhaging, and death among dozens of Hollywood extras. Heroic actors obtain antibodies to the virus from an infected monkey, mass-produce them, inject a patient, and—well, you'll just have to rent the video.

Despite the melodrama, this plot sounds a lot like an attack of Ebola virus—except for the antibodies. No such treatment is available. Moreover, in patients with the all-too-real virus, antibodies don't seem to play a major role. Unlike people who've bested viral diseases such as smallpox and measles, survivors of Ebola fever don't have many antibodies against the virus in their blood, and the few they have seem ineffective.

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