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Understanding How Ebola Works

A new study has expanded our understanding of Ebola, by discovering one way the deadly virus dodges the body’s defenses.

The discovery, by researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine, provides an insight that could lead to new treatments for the terrifying virus.

In their work, the investigators detailed how an Ebola protein, VP24, binds to a host protein, taking away the host’s ability to issue a crucial immune signal to the nucleus of a cell.

That signal would help active the immune system’s antiviral defenses. Blocking the signal, as VP24 does, is believed to be a significant contributor to the deadliness of the virus.

The virus, first discovered in 1976, has killed thousands of people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Guinea. Several Americans who work in Africa have contracted the virus but have survived.

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