Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Scientists find how Ebola disables immune response

14 August 2014, 12:59

Abuja - Scientists studying the lethal Ebola virus say they have found how it blocks and disables the body's ability to battle infections in a discovery that should help the search for potential cures and vaccines.

In the largest and deadliest outbreak of the disease yet recorded, Ebola has killed more than 1,000 people in West Africa since March.

A group of scientists in the United States found that Ebola carries a protein called VP24 that interferes with a molecule called interferon, which is vital to the immune response.

Immune system disrupted

"One of the key reasons that Ebola virus is so deadly is because it disrupts the body's immune response to the infection," said Chris Basler of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, who worked on the study.

"Figuring out how VP24 promotes this disruption will suggest new ways to defeat the virus."

The team, lead by Gaya Amarasinghe from Washington University School of Medicine, found that VP24 works by stopping something called "transcription factor STAT1" - which carries interferon's antiviral message - from entering the nucleus of a cell and initiating an immune response.

Also read: Work together to fight deadly Ebola – Health Minister

"This study shows just how nefarious the Ebola virus can be," said Ben Neuman, a virologist at Britain's university of Reading who was not directly involved in this study.

"Ebola virus carries a small tool that intercepts the cell's distress signals, and when this happens, it disables some of the most useful machinery that our bodies have for fighting Ebola. That leaves the body with only crude defences that are less effective at stopping the virus, and end up causing much of the damage that can eventually lead to death."

One of the most deadly diseases

Ebola is one of the most deadly diseases known in humans and has a case fatality rate of up to 90 percent. In the current epidemic in West Africa, the virus has infected more than 1,800 people. So far, 1,013 of these have died, the vast majority in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

There are no proven treatments or vaccines to prevent Ebola, although several biotech companies and research teams have potential drugs in development.

Amarasingh's team, whose work was published in the journal Cell on Wednesday, said understanding how Ebola disarms immune defences will be crucial in the development of new treatments.

A World Health Organization-convened panel of experts said on Tuesday that patients infected with Ebola in the West African outbreak could be offered experimental drugs.

The WHO's panel of medical ethicists said several drugs had passed the laboratory and animal study phases of development and should be fast-tracked into clinical trials and made available for compassionate use.

- Health24

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...