A single enzyme. That is all the researchers behind a new study need to manipulate to prevent the feared Ebola Virus from spreading. Because with the enzyme they also take away the virus' ability to copy itself and thus produce more virus particles and more infection.
The study has been published in the scientific journal Molecular Cell and was conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Phillips Universität Marburg in Germany.
'When the Ebola virus enters the human cell, its only purpose is to copy itself, fast. First it must copy all its proteins, then its genetic material. But by inhibiting a specific enzyme we rob the Ebola virus of its ability to copy itself. And that may potentially prevent an Ebola infection from spreading', says Professor Jakob Nilsson from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research.
A few years ago the Ebola virus ravaged West Africa, where thousands of people died from the extremely infectious Ebola infection. Once you are infected, all you can do is hope that your own immune system is able to kill the infection. Because there is currently no available treatment.
However, the researchers behind the new study have found what is called a new host factor for Ebola virus. It can be described as a small part of the host's -- for example the human body's -- own cells, which the Ebola virus uses to copy itself and produce more infection.
The virus uses the host factor enzyme PP2A-B56 to start producing proteins. So if the researchers switch off PP2A-B56, the virus' ability to copy itself and produce more infection is never 'switched on'.
Thomas Kruse, Nadine Biedenkopf, Emil Peter Thrane Hertz, Erik Dietzel, Gertrud Stalmann, Blanca López-Méndez, Norman E. Davey, Jakob Nilsson, Stephan Becker. The Ebola Virus Nucleoprotein Recruits the Host PP2A-B56 Phosphatase to Activate Transcriptional Support Activity of VP30. Molecular Cell, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2017.11.034
Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle