Cholesterol medication may lead to possible treatment

The Ebola virus | Courtesy of the CDC

Researchers at Heidelberg University are studying the possibility of cholesterol medication as a potential treatment for Ebola virus infections, they announced on Monday.
The basis for this study is that the Ebola virus' glycoprotein, which is in part responsible for the cytotoxicity associated with the virus, interacts with cellular cholesterol. Utilizing cholesterol lowering medication researchers reported that cell damage was lessened.
“Our findings suggest that both the cytotoxicity of the Ebola glycoprotein and the filament formation at the host plasma membrane could be regulated based on the amount of cholesterol in the cell,” Dr. Andreas Ernst, co-author of the study within Heidelberg's Biochemistry Center.
There is a specific amino acid that acts as an anchor point for the glycoprotein of the Ebola virus that corresponds with the lipid cholesterol within the host's cell membranes.
“Should this protective effect also prove true in the organism, cholesterol-lowering medications could have great potential in the treatment of acute Ebola virus infection," Dr. Felix Wieland, co-author and leading researcher, said. "These fundamental biochemical observations therefore need to be explored in further studies."
Currently the outbreak that is taking place in West Africa is the largest outbreak since the virus was first discovered. The World Health Organization reports that as of Wednesday the Ebola outbreak has claimed 11,279 lives and has had 15,189 confirmed cases out of 27,688 suspected and probable cases.

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