TSRI investigates antibodies to fight Ebola virus

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) said on Tuesday that they are investigating antibodies to battle Ebola virus, including three antibodies that were recently used to treat two American healthcare workers.

TSRI scientists are using electron microscopy to study the structures of the three antibodies used in the experimental ZMapp cocktail, which was supplied by Mapp Biopharmaceutical. The researchers seek to discover how the immune system molecules bind to the Ebola virus and stop it from functioning.

"What we're showing are sites of vulnerability on the surface of the virus," C. Daniel Murin, a graduate student in the labs working on the project, said. "These are the chinks in the armor of the virus and the places where you would want your anti-serum to target."

The conditions of the two Americans have improved since they received the ZMapp treatment, which is experimental and has not been approved for use outside the two cases. Erica Ollmann Saphire, one of the lead researchers on the project, is leading a $28 million consortium to test antibody cocktails from around the world to find the best candidate for neutralizing Ebola virus and similar pathogens.

The consortium was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

TSRI said an ideal antibody cocktail would ease symptoms, improve prognosis and potentially work as a preventative measure.

Ebola virus causes death in 25 to 90 percent of cases.

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National Institutes of Health

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