Blood From Ebola Survivors Eyed as Weapon Against Virus

The World Health Organization has backed blood therapy in West Africa.

"There is a real opportunity that a blood derived product can be used now and this can be very effective in terms of treating patients,” Dr. Marie Paule Kieny, the agency’s assistant director general, said at a press briefing today.

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The idea is not as bizarre as it might sound. A viral infection triggers an immune response – an attack by the body against its microscopic intruder in the form of antibodies. Those antibodies block the virus from infecting new cells, and they linger in the blood long after the infection.

“It’s possible that some people have antibodies that are directed against more important parts of the virus in terms of slowing it down. It could vary from person to person,” he said, explaining how different antibodies hone in on different parts of the sly virus. “In an outbreak scenario, it may difficult to identify who the best donors would be. It would have to be studied in a lab.”