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Study Reveals How Ebola Circumvents The Immune System

The renowned journal Cell, in its reports by Tubingen and Gottingen research team, described new mechanism by which the Ebola virus evades the immune system. The immune cells are responsible for releasing messenger molecules. When the body is affected by this virus, the infected cells tend to release decoys which turn the neutralizing antibodies inactive. This in turn prevents the release of messenger molecules.

Prof. Michael Schindler, the team lead virologist at the Tubingen, said that the cells in the body which is infected by this virus releases small vesicles. These vesicles contain the virus glycoprotein attached to their surface. They are called as virosomes and they affect the normal antibody functioning. They do this by binding the antibodies which are actually supposed to act against the virus glycoprotein.  The immune responses against an attacking virus are coordinated by certain cells called macrophages. These are scavenger cells which releases cytokines, chemokines which are messenger molecules. Once the body is attacked by the Ebola virus, all this function of the macrophages is suppressed.

Prof. Stefan Poh-Imann, co author of the study and head of the Infection Biology Unit in Gottingen, said that functionally active glycoproteins are attached to the surface of virosomes. This property of virosome will pave a new path in the field of vaccine development and be a helping hand to the basic research with future applications in therapy as well as prevention.

The virologists explain that immune system had developed measures to offset the effects of virosomes. Recent study has provided an insight into how a different cellular protein has been found to prevent virosome release thus giving an important contribution in natural immune defense. After the success of the current discovery, scientists are behind other hemorrhagic fever viruses to see if they can also be used in vaccine production.