By Steve Tawa


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Penn veterinary researcher is working on developing compounds that could reduce the ability of a virus, including Ebola, to spread.

Dr. Ronald Harty, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, and his team are studying the molecular workings of viruses, aiming to reduce their ability to spread infection.

Since viruses cannot reproduce on their own, they hijack host cell proteins, then exit the cell in a process called “budding,” to infect other cells.

Dr. Harty and his colleagues are developing a compound that would allow a person’s immune system to fight off the virus by blocking the “budding” process.

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Harty describes the process they are hoping to block as analogous to a child blowing bubbles from a plastic bubble wand.

“So, the bubble separating from the end of that wand would be analogous to the virus particle trying to separate from the surface of an infected cell,” he explains.

The next step for the potential antivirals will be to test them in animal models.


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