Robert Stahelin studies some of the world's deadliest viruses. Filoviruses , including Ebola virus and Marburg virus, cause viral hemorrhagic fever with high fatality rates. Stahelin, professor at Purdue University, examines how these viruses take advantage of human host cells. His latest research, which he will present on Wednesday, February 19 at the 64 th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society in San Diego, California, show how Ebola interacts with a human lipid and that FDA approved drugs that alter lipids block Ebola infection in cells.
Ebola virus causes a rare, often deadly, highly contagious, disease characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. "I became interested in how these viruses are working in the body in a way that causes such harsh death," Stahelin says. Filoviruses have lipid envelopes, they take those lipids from human cells during the infection. "I was intrigued that the virus could take human lipids and use it as its protective coat."
For safety reasons Stahelin doesn't work with Ebola virus itself, instead, he works with combinations of its seven genes so the virus can't fully replicate. His latest focus has been on Ebola's VP40 protein, encoded by one of the seven genes.
VP40 forms the virus's matrix layer, a layer of protein beneath the lipid envelope. So it's responsible for hijacking and taking the host lipid membrane to make the long viral envelope." Robert Stahelin, professor, Purdue University Related Stories
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