NOV 19, 2015 03:26 PM PST

IFN-Ɣ Beats Ebola

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed nearly 12,000 lives since 2014, leaving researchers scrambling to develop effective vaccines and therapies.  University of Iowa researchers have a possible solution, however.  They want to treat Ebola using gamma interferon (IFN-?).

Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with infected blood and body fluids.  Symptoms of infection appear between 2 and 21 days after exposure and include fever, severe headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and hemorrhaging.  In most cases, the mortality rate is 50%.
 
Symptoms appear  2 to 21 days after infection.
Ebola infection occurs in two stages.  First, the virus infects macrophages and dendritic cells in the spleen, lymph nodes, and liver.  Second, after replicating in these cells for 3 to 4 days, the virus is shed into the bloodstream where it goes on to infect multiple other cell types.  Since IFN-? is known to activate macrophages and induce an antiviral state, the group reasoned that IFN-? treatment might inhibit Ebola during the first stage of infection.  

According to study author Wendy Maury, Ebola “goes from an early stage with a very targeted infection of only these few cell types (macrophages and dendritic cells), to everything being infected … we think what’s happening with gamma interferon is that it’s targeting macrophages and blocking the infection of those initial cell targets so you don’t get the second round of infection”.

The group infected mice with a mouse-adapted "Ebola virus" (vesicular stomatitis virus expressing Ebola surface glycoproteins), then treated them with gamma interferon.  When treated up to 24 h after infection, the mice were completely protected.  The group then investigated the mechanism by which IFN-? protected cells from the virus.  They identified 160 genes that were upregulated in macrophages by IFN-? treatment.  When a handful of these genes were upregulated experimentally, they helped ward off infection.  

The only drawback is that IFN-? treatment is probably only effective at the early stage of infection. According to Maury, “My guess is that if you delay the gamma interferon too much, you miss this window of opportunity to block the infection in macrophage cells and the gamma interferon can no longer provide protection”.

Sources: Science Daily, PLOS Pathogens, WHO, CDC, Wikipedia
 
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
You May Also Like
OCT 09, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 09, 2018
'Copper Antibiotic Peptide' Effective in Eradicating Tuberculosis
The bacterium responsible for Tuberculosis has found a way to avoid antibiotics by hiding inside the macrophages which are the specific immune cells that a...
OCT 19, 2018
Videos
OCT 19, 2018
Latin American Coffee Harvests Threatened by Fungus
A fungus called hemileia vastatrix causes a serious plant disease called coffee leaf rust....
OCT 20, 2018
Microbiology
OCT 20, 2018
A Killer Combo: Probiotics and Antibiotics
Researchers developed a way to protect probiotics from the effects of antmicrobial drugs....
OCT 24, 2018
Drug Discovery
OCT 24, 2018
Peptide Ruptures Viral Membrane of Zika Virus
According to a recent study at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), a newly engineered antiviral peptide will aim to attack the vir...
DEC 09, 2018
Microbiology
DEC 09, 2018
Gut Microbiomes Vary Among Ethnicities
Many products that purport to change the microbiome have entered the market. But first we have to know what a healthy microbiome looks like....
DEC 15, 2018
Videos
DEC 15, 2018
Using Genomics to Study Bacterial Evolution and More
Learn more about how genetics and bioinformatics techniques are helping researchers to understand how microbes adapt, survive and spread in the world....
Loading Comments...