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Did Auburn University just save the world from Ebola?

Auburn Ebola

…Well, not exactly — at least not yet. But maybe.

The Ebola virus is currently ravaging West Africa, even stoking fears in the United States as two American missionaries were infected in Africa and brought back to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.

This is the first time in history that victims of the deadly virus (it kills 88 percent of its victims) have been treated in the United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have assured the country that the possibility of an outbreak is virtually non-existent. As a matter of fact, an Ebola outbreak has literally never happened in a developed country.

Americans are concerned nonetheless.

But a team of Auburn University researchers may soon eliminate those concerns completely.

Fox News explains:

The Ebola virus is able to turn off the body’s natural immune response. But researchers at Auburn University believe they’ve developed an “on-switch.”

Simply known by its lab identification number, WY3161 is a relatively small molecule. The compound appears to reverse the immune-blocking effects of certain viruses, including Ebola, when tested on cells from green monkeys.

Auburn Professor Stewart Schellner, who’s leading the research team, has devoted the last decade of his life to combatting virus-caused infections like Hepatitis C, Yellow Fever, Smallpox and more. The team’s latest findings regarding Ebola will be published this month in the Journal of Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry.

Unfortunately the current Ebola victims won’t benefit directly from the Auburn team’s research because the treatment is still in the early stages of development. However, Schellner believes the compound has a really good chance of becoming a viable treatment option for future outbreaks.

“In the future, what we learn from how viruses turn off the immune system is going to open up these other 10 or 12 categories of viruses,” said Schneller. “There may be leads there.”

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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