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Ebola: 'Chances of disease killing a person is based on their genetic make-up' - New study says

  • Published in Nutrition

New research has shown that the Ebola virus that killed over 11,000 people  did not mutate at a faster rate than in previous outbreaks.

This is contrary to research conducted early in the outbreak which suggested the virus was mutating at twice the rate previously seen.

Describing the find as reassuring,  researchers said the mutation rate was only slightly higher in this last outbreak.

Said Miles Carroll, head of research microbiology services at Public Health England (PHE) which is the laboratory leading the work:

"The results are good news for the scientists working to develop long-term solutions for Ebola, such as vaccines and treatments, as it means these should still work against the mutated strains of the virus,"

For their study, Carroll and researchers across Europe and in affected West African countries analyzed 179 patient samples obtained by the European Mobile Laboratory, which was deployed to the epicenter of the outbreak in Guinea, to find how the Ebola virus mutated and spread.

According to Reuters, their analysis confirmed Ebola was introduced into the Guinean population in December 2013 at a single source, supporting theories from epidemiologists.

Scientists believe it was first transmitted from a bat to a 2-year-old boy and the team also established how the virus spilled into Sierra Leone in April or early May 2014.

Based on their results, Carroll said his team now believes one of the key factors in whether Ebola kills someone is the host's genetic makeup, rather than changes in the virus itself.

The team said the next phase of study would be investigating the story which may lead to improved treatment options.

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