U.S. military brings scientists closer to Ebola cure

If you know anything about the Ebola virus, you're terrified by it. The disease, euphemistically dubbed a haemorrhagic fever, essentially causes one's innards to turn to mush, and blood begins to leak out of a patients eyes, nose, ears -- everywhere. It's only turned up sporadically in remote Africa in humans, but when it does, it has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.

Think that sounds scary? How about this prospect: that disease engineered as bioweapon. Right. That's what the Department of Defense thought in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. So they have been researching drug therapy treatments ever since. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and a private firm, AVI BioPharma, published the results of studies that show that their treatment does have a helpful effect in monkeys. That's a huge leap, particularly since the reserachers were given clearance to start limited human testing. The partnership won a Defense Department grant of up to $291 million last month for that phase.

It's an interesting reminder of just how many technological advances have come out of such army research -- and who knows, maybe more disease treatments will be down the pipeline. Now, if only they would start researching malaria . . .

Claude Mahoudeau/AFP/Getty Images


Friday Photo: The Smell Test

NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 17: Gary Lopinto, a commercial seafood inspector for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, sniffs a filet of drum fish for oil contamination at Inland Seafood August 17, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Seafood captured in Louisiana waters is randomly checked, both by sense of smell and chemical testing, on a regular basis following the massive oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico caused by the Deepwater Horizon accident.

Win McNamee/Getty Images