NEW YORK-A team of scientists from the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, along with another group from the University of California, San Francisco, have determined how the lethal Ebola and Marbury viruses enter a human cell.
Viruses usually creep into a human cell by attaching itself to a receptor. The researchers have found these viruses enter by attaching themselves to the folic acid receptor. This receptor helps cells get the necessary vitamin B to survive.
This discovery may help the teams develop pharmaceuticals that would prevent the virus from attaching to the necessary receptors; however, there may be more than one point of infection. Viruses often enter a cell through a variety of receptors.
The scientists say they will continue their research to determine if any other receptors are being targeted by the virus.
Ebola and Marbury are the only members of the virus family called Filoviridae. This family and three others, Arenavirus, Bunyavirus, and Flavivirus cover the spectrum of hemorrhagic viruses.
Marbury was first discovered in 1967 after an outbreak in Marbury, Germany of hemorrhagic fever among laboratory workers who had handled green monkeys. Seven people died in the first outbreak. There have been a few international reports of the disease since.
Ebola was first recognized as a hemorrhagic fever in 1976. It was named for a river Democratic Republic of Congo, where the virus has surfaced randomly for the past 20 years.
The latest outbreak occurred in Uganda in 2000, where it killed more than 150 people.