Has Mass Spectrometry unlocked a cure for Ebola?
A team from Northwestern University has used Mass Spectrometry (Mass Spec) to examine interactions between human proteins and Ebola virus proteins.
Ebola, like other viruses, invades a host’s cells and uses them to replicate by building viral proteins and essentially copying itself. This replication process allows the virus to spread to other cells within a host body, making the host feel ill with the effects of the virus. Ebola is a particularly horrible virus because its hosts suffer from fevers and severe internal bleeding which often proves fatal, and currently there is no known cure.
However, as published in the Journal Cell, researchers at Northwestern University have identified a human protein which interferes with Ebola virus replication. The researchers used Mass Spectrometry, an analysis technique which identifies different elements in a sample by mass, to look for interactions between human proteins and Ebola virus proteins.
The team discovered an interesting interaction between human protein RBBP6 and Ebola virus protein VP30, finding strong evidence that RBBP6 interferes with Ebola virus replication. Conversely, they also found that when RBBP6 is removed from human cells the Ebola virus replicates much faster.
Judd Hultquist, co-lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the division of infectious disease at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, commented on where the discovery could lead:
“What we envision is a small molecule drug that mimics this human protein and could be used in response to an Ebola virus outbreak”
It seems then that Mass Spectrometry has unlocked a potential cure for Ebola by leading researchers to the human protein which could be used as the basis for a drug which will stop the replication of the virus.
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