Cures may be possible for potential bioweapons, researchers say

Recent medical advances suggest that cures may be possible for infections hemorrhagic fevers caused by filovirues, including the potential bioweapon Ebola and Marburg viruses.

The infections are currently considered incurable, and no treatment candidates have been tested in the field. Scientists, however, have been able to stop Ebola from replicating in certain types of human cells, according to the New York Times.

Earlier this month, scientists at the United States Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases demonstrated that blood filtered from monkeys that survived challenges from the Ebola and Marburg virus could protect other monkeys. Some of the test subjects were given the blood up to two days after infection. Some showed no symptoms of infection at all, while others became only mildly sick.

Last month, researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported that they were able to stop Ebola from replicating in kidney cells by using two drugs - Gleevac and Tasigna - designed to fight leukemia.

In January, scientists identified a protein in host cells that appears critical in facilitating infection by the Ebola virus. The study, which appeared in the journal Nature, showed that cells lacking the protein remained unharmed despite exposure to the virus, according to the New York Times.

Judith White, a cell biologist and virologist at the University of Virginia, called the results of the study astounding. It is the first time scientists had been able to demonstrate that a genetically engineered animal can survive an infection by the mostly lethal virus.

Despite their nefarious reputations, outbreaks of filoviruses remain rare, often occurring in isolated African villages. Field testing any treatment, therefore, could take years to complete.