In the second Nature article on this topic, another team of USAMRIID scientists, working with investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, independently arrived at the same conclusionthat Ebola virus needs NPC1 to enter the cell and cause infection.
The BWH group used a robotic method developed by Harvard's National Small Molecule Screening Laboratory to screen tens of thousands of compounds for activity against Ebola virus. They identified a novel small molecule that inhibits Ebola virus entry into cells by more than 99 percent.
Next, USAMRIID investigators Lisa Hensley, Ph.D. and Claire Marie Filone, Ph.D. verified that the newly identified inhibitor, or compound, blocked cell-to-cell transmission of Ebola virus. Using the inhibitor as a probe to investigate the pathway of infection, they found that the target of the inhibitor is NPC1the same cell protein described by the other research team. The findings suggest that small molecules that target NPC1 and inhibit Ebola virus infection have the potential to be developed into antiviral drugs.
"The fact that two groups identified the same protein, using two different experimental approaches, is significant," Dr. Dye commented. "This independent corroboration greatly increases our confidence in the findings."
Dr. Hensley said both studies represent the first step in a promising line of research that could make it possible for scientists to design therapeutics that impede the ability of the Ebola virus to infect and spread.
Both projects received funding support from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).
|Contact: Lori Calvillo|
US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases