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A New Player in the Fight against Ebola

An international team of scientists recently identified the molecular factor that the Ebola virus attaches to in order to gain entry into host cells. The host protein, Neimann-Pick C1 (NPC1), is embedded in the membrane of lysosomes and allows the virus to gain entry to the cytoplasm, where the productive infection occurs. The study, which expanded upon findings from an earlier in vitro study, was carried out in NPC1 wild type, carrier, and knockout mice.

The researchers found that, while the wild type mice were readily infected by the Ebola virus, the knockout mice showed no signs of viral replication or the disease. Interestingly, carrier mice, possessing one copy of the NPC1 protein, demonstrated a survival advantage when infected with the virus, suggesting that even if the virus was able to gain entry into the host cell, a drug targeting the virus’ interaction with NPC1 could provide some protection against viral infection and the lethality of the disease.

The scientists hope to use their findings to identify and develop antiviral drugs for humans that will effectively prevent infection by the Ebola virus.

Source: Science Daily

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