Researchers in the virology division of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID) have identified several antibodies that protect mice from infection with the deadly Ebola virus (Science 2000;287:1664–1666). In fact, the team led by Julie Wilson, PhD, said that the antibodies protected the mice whether they were administered before or after challenge by the virus.
No cures or vaccines have been identified to treat or stop the Ebola virus, which causes sudden, deadly hemorrhagic fever. The USAMRID researchers identified monoclonal antibodies specific for the Ebola virus glycoprotein. This glycoprotein is the only viral protein that is found on the surfaces of virions and infected cells. It is presumed to be responsible for receptor binding and the fusion of the virus with host cells.
Analyses of the monoclonal antibodies showed that there were groups of amino acids that seemed to allow the Ebola glycoprotein to bind with some of the antibodies. Some of the antibodies then bound to all of the Ebola viruses known to cause disease in humans. “These results suggest that it is possible to elicit by vaccination, or produce for therapeutic use, antibodies protective against all Ebola viruses that are pathogenic for humans,” the authors concluded in their published report.
The finding seems to contradict a commonly held belief that antibodies cannot protect against the Ebola virus. The authors cautioned that much more work must be done to determine what kinds of monoclonal antibodies would protect humans against the disease.
- Copyright © 2000 by American Heart Association