Ebola. The name conjures visions of a hideous death, far too gruesome and far too slow. And with a 90% mortality rate, it’s as close to certain death to contract it as most of us can conceive.
After decades of unsuccessful research, a collaboration based out of the Army’s labs at Fort Detrick, Maryland has devised an experimental injection that cures the Ebola virus by targeting its genetic material.
The injection uses a novel technique, called RNA interference, to stop viral cells from replicating. Scientists packaged RNA snippets into particles that were then injected into four rhesus monkeys, who’d been infected with a dose of Ebola that was 30,000 times more potent than the virus’ most lethal strain, which already has a measly 10 percent survival rate. The snippets latched onto key viral proteins, and cured all four monkeys after a week of daily injections.
Outstanding news, for a couple of reasons. Obviously, when we find a way to cure a deadly disease, that’s reason enough to celebrate. Moreover, this technique might lend itself to treatments for other, more common diseases. The real killer of an H1N1 epidemic wouldn’t be that virus directly, it’d be the parasitic infections that follow, most commonly viral pneumonia. Aside from treating the symptoms there’s just not a whole lot medicine can do for that disease, yet. Perhaps this technique could change that as well?
Anyway, it’s good news and I hope to be hearing lots more about it in the future.