Doctors at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Emory University School of Medicine, along with those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, looked at seven U.S. patients and found those with severe cases of Ebola, who had high levels of virus in their blood, had out-of-control immune responses.
Those with a moderate case had a healthy immune responses that was able to control the virus.
Dr. Chris Kratochvil, UNMC associate vice chancellor for clinical research and vice president for research at Nebraska Medicine, says they need to dig deeper to see what triggers such reactions.
“We want the body to be attacking the virus and trying to knock it down,” Kratochvil tells Nebraska Radio Network, “but one of the questions is – does that go a little bit too far, and then start causing damage to the body to the degree that the body can’t come back and fight.”
Kratochvil says they need to see if genetics of the patients played a part in their response to the virus, and whether they had pre-existing conditions.
“We’re really just starting to understand what’s going on as the virus is attacking the body,” he says. “Are there points where we can maybe intervene with very specific medications if that immune response gets too much?”
The research team still has patients’ samples that can be used for future tests, as doctors take small steps towards understanding the Ebola Virus.
“It’s very helpful to give us some direction in how we can move forward with some other laboratory tests to understand how we might help to mediate or control some of those responses of the body,” Kratochvil says.
Three of the seven Ebola Virus patients were treated at UNMC and four were at Emory University. All but one survived.