- University of Utah scientists have isolated a potential universal drug target for Ebola by designing a peptide mimic that displays a functionally critical region of the virus that is universally present in all known Ebola strains, World Pharma News reports.
- This conserved region in the Ebola protein controls entry of the virus into the human host.
- There are currently no approved anti-Ebola agents, though there are several experimental drugs that have been cleared for compassionate use. The goal is to develop this new universal target into a preventive treatment.
There are five known strains of Ebola, a virus which is associated with an overall mortality rate of 50% to 90%. The study that led to the isolation of the universal drug target is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and involves a large collaborative group of researchers.
One major difference between the universal target and experimental drugs that have been used to treat Ebola, such as Mapp Biopharma's ZMapp and Tekmira's TKM-Ebola, is that the experimental drugs target just one of the five species. This research would not be possible without the most sophisticated high-throughput screening tools available, which allow researchers to conduct vast numbers of tests in a short amount of time. The race is on to find a cure—and NIH-funded scientists are hard at work.