Stopping Ebola in Its Tracks

Richard Preston brought the threat of emerging infectious diseases to the consciousness of his readers in The Hot Zone. The book graphically describes how the Ebola virus causes massive internal bleeding, which kills up to 90 percent of the people it infects. Now National Institutes of Health scientists are making promising advances to stop disease spread. Researchers have identified a viral protein that destroys endothelial cells, the cells that line the blood vessel walls, which may account for the gruesome way the virus kills (Z-Y. Yang et al., "Identification of the Ebola virus glycoprotein as the main viral determinant of vascular cell cytotoxicity and injury," Nature Medicine, 6:886-9, August 2000). Though Ebola outbreaks are not common or widespread, researchers can learn much about the pathogenicity of other viruses through studying Ebola. "We have learned by watching AIDS spread throughout the world that the...

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