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On the Trail of an Ebola Cure

September 16, 2014
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By Abigail Klein Leichman, ISRAEL21c

As the most severe Ebola epidemic on record spreads through central Africa, infecting and killing hundreds of citizens and foreign aid workers, and raising the specter of outbreaks all over the world, an Israeli research team is working with survivors to develop antibodies against the lethal virus.

Dr. Leslie Lobel tells ISRAEL21c that he and fellow principal investigator Dr. Victoria Yavelsky have spent many years studying native immunity to Ebola and another equally lethal Equatorial African virus, Marburg, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS.

Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever, is one of the deadliest viruses in the world. It kills up to 90 percent of its victims, while Marburg, a similar virus, kills up to 88%. Ebola can be spread through sweat and saliva, and there is no vaccine or cure. In the latest outbreak [2014], the worst ever, more than 670 people have died, including Americans.

“Currently we’ve tracked all Ebola and Marburg virus survivors in Uganda, studied their immune responses to these viruses and identified survivors with a strong immune response,” he says. “We take blood samples from them and isolate monoclonal antibodies that neutralize the virus in our lab here at Ben-Gurion.”

Yavelsky and Lobel’s therapeutic approach was proven as a successful potential treatment by their colleagues in the US military, and at several other laboratories. This approach is regarded as the most promising way to prevent Ebola and Marburg, and it could be available within five years.  To continue reading, click here

Source: Excerpts of article reprinted with permission, ISRAEL21c,

Photo Credit: luchschen/Shutterstock.com

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