Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have identified a way to trick the body’s immune system into inhibiting the spread of the Lassa virus.
The Lassa virus is a potentially deadly disease endemic to western Africa that can cause fever and bleeding from the gums, eyes and nose.
Researchers found a mechanism in which the body creates antibodies that bond to the surface of viral cells, blocking them from spreading throughout a patient’s system, according to press release from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The discovery could foster the development of vaccines or other treatments, the release said.
The decade-long study of the Lassa virus, which affects 300,000 people annually and poses a risk for women in their third trimester of pregnancy, was financed by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the parent organization of the NIAID.
Unraveling the way the Lassa glycoprotein precursor interacts with immune system cells was a joint effort of the Scripps Institute, Tulane University and Sierra Leone’s Kenema Government Hospital.