Fort Detrick, Md—As a flare-up of Ebola hemorrhagic fever disturbs West Africa, the serendipitous discovery of harmless Ebola-like particles promises to speed basic research and, possibly, the development of vaccines and drug therapies.
In an article published this month, scientists at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the agency spearheading the military's biowarfare defense effort, report a simple method for generating Ebola virus–like particles—assemblages of proteins—shaped like their namesake but gutted of all genetic material and, thus, unable to replicate (J Exp Med. 2002;195:1-11).
Electron micrograph of Ebola virus-like particles. Tiny dots on the perimeter, the result of immunogold staining, confirm the identity of the outer membrane glycoprotein. (Photo credit: USARMIID)
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