Surviving Ebola Depends on Genes


The likeliness to die or survive the Ebola virus depends on the individual set of genes. Scientists from the University of Washington found that human DNA is able to influence the chances to survive the dangerous illness or die.

According to the World Health Organization, more than five thousand people became the victims of the Ebola virus. Scientists have not yet come to a definite conclusion about the mortality rate of this disease. According to various estimates, it ranges from 70 to 90%. Currently, doctors use a variety of experimental drugs that can increase the chances of the patient to overcome the virus. However, US researchers have found that the chance of defeating the Ebola virus or dying pretty much depends on the DNA.

The scientists from the University of Washington decided to find out why some people show only mild symptoms of the virus, whereas in some of them the disease symptoms are especially severe. Observation of laboratory mice showed that the same strain of the Ebola virus causes severe reaction in most rodents including multi-organ failure, shock and death, while other rodents demonstrate reasonable or no reaction at all.

Thus, 19% of the rodents not only survived the Ebola virus, but completely restored the lost weight within two weeks. They did not have any signs of pathological changes in the body, and the liver was completely normal. 11% demonstrated partial resistance, and less than half of the mice died. In 70% of the mice, the virus proved more deadly, and the mortality rate reached 50%. But 19% of them were diagnosed with an inflammatory liver disease, although the mice did not show the classic symptoms of the virus.

Finally, a third of the mice had extensive internal bleeding, and changes in the texture and color of the liver. The obtained results showed the scientists that the individual set of human genes influences how intensively the disease will develop, as well as the chances to survive or die. The mice surviving the virus demonstrated the highest activity of the genes that control the process of blood vessels recovery and the production of white blood cells fighting infections. The scientists hope that their findings can be used to quickly create new drugs and vaccines against the Ebola virus.