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Single host gene may hold key to treating both ebola and anthrax infections
Date:8/20/2009

mmune system, which can be determined by the levels of a single regulator gene.

Ebola virus, which causes hemorrhagic fever with human case fatality rates up to 80 percent, is a global health concern and a potential biological threat. Currently there are no available vaccines or therapies. Scientists at USAMRIID study the Ebola virus to support development of medical products to prevent and treat infection.

The recently published work builds upon a related study that appeared in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in May of this year. That research showed that CD45 also plays a role in protection from Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax. Specifically, the USAMRIID team demonstrated that in mice expressing 62 percent of the CD45 gene, about 70 percent were protected following exposure to anthrax.

Bacillus anthracis causes three types of diseasecutaneous, gastrointestinal, and inhalationaldepending upon the route of exposure. A licensed vaccine is available, and is protective if administered before exposure. Inhalational anthrax is difficult to diagnose early, and despite antibiotic therapy, has a high fatality rate. In addition, because anthrax spores can remain in the body for extended periods, antibiotic treatment is typically recommended for 60 days or more following exposure.

"This report demonstrates the critical connection between basic research and the potential development of medical products," said COL John P. Skvorak, commander of USAMRIID. "Understanding pathogenesis of disease and host response is critical to the Department of Defense's investment in broad spectrum countermeasures."

The next step for investigators is to look at the mechanism of action to better understand how reduced expression of this gene regulates the pathogenesis of both diseases. That information could one day lead to the identification and discovery of additional promising compounds for treating Ebola and anthrax infect
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Contact: Caree Vander Linden
Caree.Vanderlinden@us.army.mil
301-619-2285
US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases
Source:Eurekalert

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