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​Tulane researchers on cutting edge of battle against deadly West African virus

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  • ​Tulane researchers on cutting edge of battle against deadly West African virus

    Tulane researchers on cutting edge of battle against deadly West African virus

    BY CHAD CALDER AND FAIMON A. ROBERTS III | ccalder@theadvocate.com froberts@theadvocate.com JUL 16, 2017 - 6:00 PM (0)

    Tulane University has been awarded more than $12 million by the National Institutes of Health to test a treatment and develop a vaccine for Lassa fever, a deadly viral hemorrhagic fever common in West Africa that infects more than 300,000 people a year.

    The funding stems in part from the work of Tulane virologists Robert Garry and James Robinson, who were part of a team of scientists led by the Scripps Research Institute that mapped out the molecular structure of surface protein on the Lassa virus, a protein that allows it to infect human cells.
    ...
    Garry, who has been part of a group of researchers studying Lassa virus in Sierra Leone for 14 years, said Lassa is a "lesser-known cousin" of Ebola and the two diseases share many symptoms, including fever and bleeding. But while Lassa tends not to get as much attention as Ebola, it is more common and almost as deadly.
    ...
    Garry said that while Ebola flares up sporadically, Lassa occurs year-round and infects tens of thousands each year.

    "If you do get sick with the disease, there is a very high fatality rate" he said. "It's about the same as Ebola."
    ...
    On the treatment side, Garry’s team will test the three most potent Lassa antibodies to see which formulation will work best in a drug therapy.

    For the vaccine, the work will incorporate similar glycoproteins against Ebola that are already being tested in clinical trials.

    “Ebola is likely to come back, and Lassa isn’t going away, so you have to protect against both,” Garry said. “We think we can do it with one shot.”
    ...
    http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orlea...71eb1d42c.html
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