Scientific American April 1, 2014
At first, people infected with the Ebola virus appear to have the flu — fever, chills, muscle aches. Then the bleeding begins. As the virus hijacks cells throughout the body to make copies of itself, it overwhelms and damages the liver, lungs, spleen and blood vessels. Within days organs begin to fail and many patients fall into a coma. Some outbreaks, primarily in Central and West Africa, have killed up to 90 percent of infected individuals. That terrifying prognosis may be about to change. Using so-called small interfering RNA, or siRNA, UTMB’s Thomas W. Geisbert and his many collaborators have devised a highly promising treatment that has saved the lives of six monkeys infected with the virus.