The Army Is Playing A Key Role In Finding A Cure For Ebola

news

Army researchers from Fort Detrick are developing relationships with Ebola survivors in Uganda, who may hold the key to a vaccine or treatment for the deadly disease.


John Dye led a team from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases on a trip to Uganda in August. Dye is chief of viral immunology at the institute.

"For the last 50 years, there have been Ebola outbreaks all over Africa, and a lot of them have occurred in Uganda," he said.

Uganda is a "hotbed of viruses and bacteria," Dye said, and people there have been living alongside the virus for years.

"We do know that monkeys carry Ebola as well, and monkey meat is a main staple of the diet of people in Africa," he said.

Since 2011, researchers from the institute have traveled to Uganda about every six months to collect samples of Ebola survivors' blood. Certain types of cells in their immune systems may indicate how the body can successfully fight off the disease.

"What's different about them and their status of their body, their genetics or their immune system that allowed them to survive when 70 percent of the other people succumb?" he said.

Some survivors are still suffering problems with eyesight and arthritis, even though they have fought off the virus, Dye said.

Related: JOB ENVY: The Navy Vet Who’s Now Fighting The Ebola Outbreak »

As in the West African outbreak, Ebola survivors in Uganda, in East Africa, were often shut out from their communities.

"They couldn't get jobs. They couldn't go back to their previous jobs because they were seen as cursed, where, ironically, the survivors are actually blessed," Dye said.

As researchers from a foreign country, Dye's team had to spend time with native Ugandans to explain why their blood was needed and why the survivors were so important.

"Everywhere we go, we try to get that message across that these individuals are not cursed, they actually are so lucky that they survived this infection that normally kills about 70 percent of the people [that are infected]," Dye said.

The Army institute also sent researchers to Liberia at the height of the West African Ebola outbreak. They helped create the first center to monitor genetic changes in the Ebola virus that may affect the effectiveness of future vaccines and treatments.

The ebola virus.Centers for Disease Control photo.

The genomics center is based at the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research.

The Army institute has been involved in the development of Ebola treatments including the "ZMapp" drug, which proved to be an effective treatment during the West African outbreak.

The institute developed one of three antibodies in the cocktail-style drug, which is now licensed to a biopharmaceutical company in California.

Dye said the institute's current work focuses on treating and vaccinating against other strains of the virus, which are genetically separate from the strain that caused the most deaths in the West African outbreak, but still share the characteristics of Ebola.

"We don't know what the next outbreak is going to be. ... If it's one of these others that comes out of the woods, we don't really have anything in the cupboard" to treat it, Dye said.

Alternatively, a vaccine created with the research they've done in Uganda may protect against all the strains of Ebola.

Dye said he's hoping the vaccines or treatments that come from their research will be tested in Uganda.

A manufacturing plant in Frederick, which gets its marching orders through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, plans to make more doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine early next year, according to David A. Lindsay, a director at the plant.

———

© 2016 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

U.S. Army Africa photo.
Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Porch/U.S. Army

Army Staff Sgt. Albert Leon Mampre, who served during World War II with the famed Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division depicted in the HBO series 'Band of Brothers,' was laid to rest on June 15th, the Army announced

Mampre, who died on May 31 at 97 years old, was the last living medic from Easy Company, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. A number of soldiers assigned to his unit provided an honor guard for his funeral service.

Read More Show Less
(Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev)

NIEUWEGEIN, Netherlands (Reuters) - Three Russians and a Ukrainian will face murder charges for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine which killed 298 people, in a trial to start in the Netherlands next March, an investigation team said on Wednesday.

The suspects are likely to be tried in absentia, however, as the Netherlands has said Russia has not cooperated with the investigation and is not expected to hand anyone over.

"These suspects are seen to have played an important role in the death of 298 innocent civilians", said Dutch Chief Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke.

"Although they did not push the button themselves, we suspect them of close cooperation to get the (missile launcher) where it was, with the aim to shoot down an airplane."

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army photo)

A Navy SEAL sentenced to one year in prison for the death of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar is under investigation for allegedly flirting with Melgar's widow while using a false name and trying to persuade her that he and another SEAL accused of killing her husband were "really good guys," according to the Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy/Cameron Pinske)

Editor's Note: This article by Patricia Kime originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

A senator has taken up the cause to negate a controversial court ruling that bars service members from suing the federal government in cases of medical malpractice by military doctors.

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.

Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."

Read More Show Less