WASHINGTON (TIP): Researchers have identified a new Ebola drug target that will enable the discovery of therapies with the potential to treat any future epidemic, even if new virus strains emerge.
University of Utah biochemists produced a molecule, known as a peptide mimic, that displays a functionally critical region of the virus that is universally conserved in all known species of Ebola.
This new tool can be used as a drug target in the discovery of anti-Ebola agents that are effective against all known strains and likely future strains.
The peptide mimics a highly conserved region in the Ebola protein that controls entry of the virus into the human host cell, initiating infection.
The researchers were able to demonstrate this peptide target is suitable for use in high-throughput drug screens. These kinds of screens allow rapid identification of potential new drugs from billions of possible candidates.
Current experimental drugs generally target only one of Ebola’s five species.