News / Health

New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

  • The local market does business as usual despite fears of the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia,  Aug. 19, 2014. 
  • Children surround a man suspected of having contracted the Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 19, 2014. 
  • A health worker carries gloves at an Ebola treatment center, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 18, 2014. 
  • Liberian police are deployed at an Ebola treatment center to provide security, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 18, 2014. 
  • A woman reads a fact sheet for the Ebola virus during an awareness campaign in Lagos, Nigeria, Aug. 15, 2014. 
  • Liberian policemen dressed in riot gear disperse a crowd of people that blocked a main road after the body of someone suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was left in the street by health workers, Monrovia, Liberia, Aug. 14, 2014.
  • A poster displaying a government message against Ebola is displayed prominently at a maternity hospital, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Aug. 14, 2014.
Ebola Outbreak
VOA News

Scientists have developed a new drug that protects monkeys against Marburg, a virulent virus that’s in the same family as Ebola. A similar drug against the Ebola virus is in early clinical trials.

The study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is the first looking at the effectiveness of the drug after the onset of Marburg symptoms.  

Researchers found the compound vanquished Marburg in a study of 16 rhesus macaque monkeys. Post-exposure protection was seen up to three days after the primates were infected with the virus, at a point when they had begun to show symptoms of the disease. The animals were infected with Marburg-Angola, the most deadly strain. Like its sister Ebola, Marburg has a mortality rate of up to 90 percent.

Thomas Geisbert, who led the study, said the compound -- called small interfering RNA or SiRNA -- thwarts signaling by the microbe’s genetic material, or messenger RNA, so the virus can’t reproduce inside the body.

“The messenger RNA is kind of like a blueprint for how the virus makes more of itself. And the SiRNA kind of interferes or blocks that ability for it to kind of follow its recipe to make proteins.”

The researchers say the drug protects against a number of different strains of Marburg, but it would not stop Ebola. However, Geisbert told reporters, an SiRNA compound that blocks Ebola is in early clinical trials.

 

 

 

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