Is the current Ebola strain mutating twice as fast as previous strains?
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/29/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Studies done on some of the early Ebola cases in Sierra Leone reveal the frightening fact that the virus had over 300 genetic mutations as it went from person to person. Even more frighteningly, these changes may make diagnostic tests and experimental treatments now in development less effective.
The World Health Organization has claimed that the current Ebola outbreak could affect as many as 20,000 people if it is not stopped.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We found the virus is doing what viruses do. It's mutating," said Pardis Sabeti of Harvard University and the Broad Institute, who led the study of samples from 78 people in Sierra Leone. Each case in the study is of those whose infections could be traced to a faith healer who had claimed a cure, which attracted Ebola patients from Guinea.
As Ebola sweeps through West Africa, every prayer is needed to help those affected.
This study was published in the journal Science, and suggests that the virus is mutating quickly and in ways that make current diagnostic and future vaccines and treatments less effective.
The study comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the epidemic could infect more than 20,000 people, and has the possibility to spread to more countries.
One of the study's authors, Robert Garry of Tulane University, said that the virus is mutating twice as fast as it was in animal hosts. The study shows changes in the glycoprotein, surface proteins that bind the virus to human cells, allowing it to start replicating within a human host. "It's also what your immune system will recognize," he said.
Erica Ollmann Saphire of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, has already checked the data to see if it impacts the three antibodies in ZMapp, am experimental drug which has been used to treat Ebola patients in the U.S. and Africa.
"It appears that they do not [affect ZMapp]," said Saphire, who directs a consortium to develop antibody treatments for Ebola and related viruses. But she said that this data "will be critical to seeing if any of the other antibodies in our pool could be affected."
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