A novel way discovered by researchers to target Ebola
Since the outbreak of deadly Ebola virus, constant research has been done to find out ways to prevent and treat it. And in the latest study, a research team has brought hope by discovering a new potential approach of targeting Ebola. The team has found that a protein known as T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 1 (Tim-1) plays a vital part in the buildup of the cytokine storm observed in the last phases of Ebola infection.
Alexander Bukreyev, the Principal Study Investigator, said, “Earlier, it was considered that the Ebola virus attacks all sorts of cells excluding the T cells; however, here we demonstrate that the Ebola virus interacts directly with T cells and, particularly, Tim-1 and that this being one of the means that stimulates a cytokine storm.”
The Ebola virus, generally fatal within 7–10 days, efficiently renders the immune response inoperative by a range of mechanisms. After getting access to the bloodstream, the virus heads directly for dendritic cells, which are the sentinel cells that caution the immune system about the viral infection. This alert system is shut down by the virus, and as left unnoticed, Ebola amplifies frenziedly, infecting several organs. Ultimately, the cells start to die and explode and then release their components into the bloodstream. After this, the immune system then commences its complete arsenal of weapons straight away in what is called as a cytokine storm. Even though this harms the virus, at the same time, it also causes huge collateral harm to its host. More rigorous the storm is, more it is prone to be fatal. Though at present, numerous therapeutic strategies and vaccines are being evaluated, supportive care continues the crucial means of treating Ebola patients.
In the new study, the research team concentrated on assessing Tim-1 as it was lately shown to be an attachment factor for the virus. The team observed a modified inflammatory reaction to Ebola infection in the Tim-1 knockout mice and few of them survived a deadly Ebola virus confront. The in-vitro studies exhibited that the Ebola virus attached directly to the Tim-1 protein, triggering the CD4 T cells and eliciting the cytokine storm.
Dr Bukreyev said, “This research is significant as it demonstrates direct communication of T cells with the Ebola virus, in spite of the evident absence of noticeable viral duplication in T lymphocytes. The virus binds directly to the isolated T lymphocytes in a Tim-1-dependent manner.” The findings, he said, can be utilized to develop new therapeutics to attack Tim-1 or the series of reactions elicited by Tim-1, so as to decrease the cytokine storm.