Researchers found that a subset of antibodies from a survivor of the Ebola outbreak provided a strong immune response against the disease. These antibodies target the stalk of the protein in the virus’s membrane and can be used in new treatments to combat Ebola.

The researchers isolated 349 antibodies from the donor’s B cells, cells that recall pathogens. They observed how the antibodies attack the glycoproteins that surround the Ebola virus surface and categorised which part of the glycoprotein they target.

They tested the antibodies’ effects on mice two days after being infected with Ebola. The antibodies that target the stalk increased the animals’ survival rates from 60 percent to 100 percent.

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The World Health Organisation states that the Ebola virus disease is a severe and fatal disease that occurred initially in remote villages in Central Africa. Its symptoms typically manifest two to 21 days from infection. The fatality rate is around 50 percent, on the average. Managing the disease requires providing supportive care, giving the patients oral or intravenous fluids for rehydration and targeting the specific symptoms.

Another study conducted on the rhesus macaque said that vaccines based on a herpes virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) can give immunity against the Ebola virus. The study researchers are from Plymouth University, National Institutes of Health and University of California, Riverside and said that this is an important step toward the development of Ebola vaccines.

The study has been published online in the journal Scientific Reports on Feb. 15, giving details into how the protection works. The researchers say that the CMV-based vaccines produced high levels of antibodies against the Ebola virus with no detectable Ebola-specific T cells. Experts have previously theorised that herpes virus-based vaccines can protect a person from Ebola virus, but previous studies did not demonstrate that these vaccines produce antibodies against the virus, until now.