Two recent publications from researchers based at MIT and Harvard report that the NPC1 protein is an essential factor in allowing infection by the deadly Ebola virus. The MIT team lead by Brummelkamp et al. used a genetic screen to identify mutant cells that were unable to support Ebola infection. They identified a panel of genes related to uptake into endosomes, most notably NPC1.
Cunningham and colleagues at Harvard used small molecule inhibitors to prevent Ebola infection, and in collaboration with Dan Ory at Washington University, demonstrated that the inhibitors were disrupting interaction between a viral protein and NPC1. These findings lay the groundwork for development of new drugs to prevent Ebola infection. The studies will spur further interest in the NPC1 protein, and could lead to new insights into its function.
Also, Northwestern University recently reported on a major breakthrough in research on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The findings could have ramifications for future research into Niemann-Pick Disease as well as other diseases with elements of dementia.
For links to more information about these research findings, visit the NNPDF's Latest Research Web page.