Chinese scientists make Ebola virus breakthrough, raise hope for future treatments

Updated 2017-03-03 08:52:45 Global Times

Chinese scientists have discovered the way the Ebola virus infects healthy human cells, which they say will provide theoretical basis for treatment and vaccine developments.

The discovery was made by the immune team of the Heilongjiang Province-based Harbin Veterinary Research Institute (HVRI) under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever which kills around 90 percent of those who suffer from it and there is no licensed vaccine or treatment at present, Xinhua said.

Proteins on the surface of virus particles are the only part of the virus that interacts with healthy cells, HVRI researcher Wang Bin told Xinhua.

Therefore the best way to fight the virus may be to develop antiviral drugs which disrupt how these proteins work, Wang explained.

However, a HVRI employee told the Global Times on Thursday that "More research needs to be done before we actually apply these findings to drug development."

The findings were published on February 14 in the US-based Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Research team member Zheng Yonghui told Xinhua that the discovery clarified how the virus cells regulate and control the functions of their surface proteins and lays out a theoretical basis for drug development.

West Africa experienced the largest ever outbreak of Ebola between March 2014 and March 2016. Over 10 thousand people died, according to the WHO.

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