Little by little, new research is stripping away the mystery surrounding the Ebola virus. Two studies released online August 24 in Nature pinpoint a protein found throughout the body that is complicit in the virus’s entry into cells. One of these also identifies compounds that seem to prevent the viral infection.
Ebola has been slow to give up its secrets. Scientists have yet to fully understand what makes the virus so virulent, typically killing up to 90 percent of those it infects. And researchers are still debating exactly which cell-surface proteins serve as Ebola’s entry point into a cell, the first step for a viral infection. But the new findings shed light on a subsequent step by identifying one of the virus’s key co-conspirators inside cells. The research offers hope that new compounds will someday disrupt that link.
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