Researchers have been able to show that a combination of genes was able to produce Ebola symptoms in mice models, with one of the genes that encodes for a protein TEK, accounting for maximum genetic variation in mice.
The identification of the gene is expected to help and accelerate work on vaccines and drugs against Ebola.
While mice are not affected by the virus normally, the team sought to know if this was because all genetic strains are immune or only some are susceptible. In the latter case, what makes some susceptible was the focus of the study.
By breeding together eight variants of mice, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Washington and the NIH Rocky Mountain National Laboratory could test the infected mice for Ebola symptoms as seen in humans.
They were able to show the combination of genes that cause the development of Ebola symptoms in mice, with one of them leading to maximum genetic variation which directly led to the animal becoming more susceptible and developing symptoms.
The work, published in the current issue of Science, is expected to improve basic research on Ebola treatments and vaccines.