The deadly Ebola virus is changing, and new genetic mutations that have arisen in the past four decades could thwart the experimental drugs that some pharmaceutical companies are developing, researchers said Tuesday.
There is no drug on the market to treat Ebola, and no vaccine to prevent it, but clinical trials were accelerated last year after the worst outbreak in history began sweeping West Africa, killing more than eight thousand people so far and infecting more than 21,000.
Until recently, drug companies had been reluctant to invest much in Ebola treatments, seeing little cash return from treating a virus that tends to strike sporadically in Africa.
Even though some drugs are now being fast-tracked, they were developed well over a decade ago, based on strains of Ebola that were identified when the virus first emerged in the 1970s.
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Some of the most promising drugs bind to and target a piece of the virus’s genetic sequence.
Since viruses naturally mutate over time, that could mean the drugs will not work as well as hoped, said the study in the journal mBio.
"The virus has not only changed since these therapies were designed, but it’s continuing to change," said lead author Jeffrey Kugelman, a viral geneticist at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
Researchers from USAMRIID, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that about three percent of the genome of the current strain of Ebola virus in West Africa contained changes, called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, when compared to outbreaks of other Ebola variants in 1976 and 1995.
They also found 10 new mutations that might interfere with the actions of monoclonal antibody, siRNA (small-interfering RNA), or PMO (phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer) drugs currently being tested, according to the research.
Three of those 10 mutations appeared during the current epidemic which has struck mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The researchers urged drug developers to check whether the mutations they found might affect their experimental therapeutics.
"Ebola researchers need to assess drug efficacy in a timely manner to make sure that valuable resources are not spent developing therapies that no longer work," said Kugelman.
gamblerjag, well if it is like usual you won't have to wait long. But maybe "Dutch" is right the gap might be filled. I sure hope so because I have a huge gap in my wallet.
One more PR, then news of $ coming in, then more PR and further updates... Let's get back to the .30s and .40s... @Zacks, where is my $1.50?
Sentiment: Strong Buy
good chance we close in the 20's.. but the selfish side of me wants to see the high teens after the 1st of Feb.. then it can go up!!! :)
gamblerjag, I agree I am also a big believer, I have to many $ to buy any more on hope,& faith, the best news we had recently I think is that the shark is around 34%, I figured he was the one shorting. A few years ago Harriet wanted to sell shares for a house. So when I see her fund "Welch" is down to 5% I was not surprised. Good Luck ,gamblerjag and thanks for the honest answer
Wish we would get mind blowing share price raging news. Ebola was good, but seems a non factor. Do all companies get that result easily? Come on McNally do a deal!