AU researchers produce drug to fight against Ebola virus

AU researchers produce drug to fight against Ebola virus

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - 23 year old Tyler Haydon joined the Peace Corps after graduating from Auburn and has been serving as a health post volunteer in Bintimodia, Guinea since December.

Haydon and 100 other volunteers never expected to be in such close proximity to Ebola just three months after arriving in Africa.

"For a while I was working in the health post there until Ebola came and then we got a message from the Peace Corps saying this is what it is, please stay away from all health centers, which made my jobs a little bit harder," says Haydon.

Living in a village with no running water or electricity, Haydon didn't realize the severity of the disease until he received an unexpected message on July 30 saying all trainees and volunteers were going to be evacuated.

Sunday, August 3, he arrived home in Massachusetts, and will remain in the states for the next few months.

"It's unfortunate because the disease is effecting people that are not very well educated on how to prevent the disease that is what is allowing it to spread," explains Haydon.

Now at Haydon's Alma mater, an Auburn University research team has produced a new drug candidate that could one day slow or even stop the deadly Ebola virus.

"The light is off because the immune system is turned off and we're looking for the light switch now to turn the light on," explains Stewart Schneller, AU professor of chemistry and biochemistry

It appears the compound reverses the immune-blocking effects of Ebola when tested on the cells of green monkeys.

"I feel much better about this one that any over the past ten years and it's just because it's a different kind of structure and its mechanism, it appears to be different than any lead we have followed and that's what is encouraging," says Schneller.

Schneller has now turned over the compound to the National Institutes of Health where they will perform a more extensive study and possible animal testing this spring.

"What we're doing now is we're taking our compound and we're seeing what else we can do with it so that we are one step ahead of any disappointing information that could come out of the next testing," says Schneller.

The discovery will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry.

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