Purdue associate professor researching Ebola

(AP Photo/Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) – There is work going on right now in our own backyard to better understand the Ebola virus and how it works.

Purdue University Associate Professor of Biological Sciences David Sanders says he has been researching the virus for a decade. Right now, he says they’re trying to understand the process of how Ebola enters a cell.

“We want to understand in detail, what it’s interacting with getting into the cell, and what kind of cells can it get into,” explained Sanders.

Sanders says they also have a patent on a virus that’s modified from the Ebola virus. That way, he says, they can study it, but they don’t have to wear those protective suits.

“This mimics the way Ebola can enter cells,” he said.

This latest outbreak brings all his research over the years much closer to home.

“Am I surprised at the size of the epidemic? I am horrified at the size of the epidemic,” Sanders said.

He says people shouldn’t panic here. He says western containment of the virus works, but there needs to be a contained response in West Africa.

“I think we have to put our resources in stopping it at the source in West Africa,” Sanders said. “Think of it as a forest fire. If you just have one fire, you can surround it, and put it out. If there are multiple fires, it’s much more difficult to contain.”

Sanders says they’re trying to develop drugs that target the immune system, and how it responds to the virus.

In the meantime, to contain the spread of the virus, he said he will take a concentrated approach.

“It really is a matter of will-power and resources. We can contain it. We can do it and we need to do it now. We need to invest sufficient resources to allow that to happen,” said Sanders.

He says treatments available currently keep blood pressure under control and make sure people have fluids, which can improve chances of survival.

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