Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine

 



Review Article

Ebola virus: new insights into disease aetiopathology and possible therapeutic interventions


Thomas W. Geisbert a1c1 and Lisa E. Hensley a2
a1 Department of Viral Pathology and Ultrastructure, Virology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5011, USA.
a2 Virology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5011, USA.

Abstract

Ebola virus (EBOV) gained public notoriety in the last decade largely as a consequence of the highly publicised isolation of a new EBOV species in a suburb of Washington, DC, in 1989, together with the dramatic clinical presentation of EBOV infection and high case-fatality rate in Africa (near 90% in some outbreaks), and the unusual and striking morphology of the virus. Furthermore, there are no vaccines or effective therapies currently available. Progress in understanding the origins of the pathophysiological changes that make EBOV infections of humans so devastating has been slow, primarily because these viruses require special containment for safe research. However, an increasing understanding of the mechanisms of EBOV pathogenesis, facilitated by the development of new tools to elucidate critical regulatory elements in the viral life cycle, is providing new targets that can be exploited for therapeutic interventions. Notably, identifying factors triggering the haemorrhagic complications that characterise EBOV infections led to the development of a strategy to modulate coagulopathy; this therapeutic modality successfully mitigated the effects of EBOV haemorrhagic fever in nonhuman primates. This review summarises our current understanding of EBOV pathogenesis and discusses various approaches to therapeutic intervention based on our current understanding of how EBOV produces a lethal infection.


Key Words: Ebola virus; Filoviridae; haemorrhagic fever; pathogenesis; therapy; treatment.

Correspondence:
c1 Department of Viral Pathology and Ultrastructure, Virology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5011, Country. Tel: +1 301 619 4803; Fax: +1 301 619 2290; E-mail: tom.geisbert@amedd.army.mil