Ebola virus disease in West Africa
2014 saw an unprecedented epidemic of Ebola virus disease in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Nearly 30,000 people caught the disease, over 11,000 died from it and over a year later there are still sporadic cases. The effect of this on the health and morale of the people and the capability of the health systems has been devastating. Some recent wins have been made with respect to progress on vaccine efficacy, but there is still no therapy to treat the disease. The virus itself is so dangerous that there are only a few places where it can be studied. So knowledge on the mechanisms of infection and how to treat it is lacking compared to many other infectious diseases.
We have a variety of relevant expertise which we can use to try and rectify this situation. We have immunologists and infectious disease experts who can carry out cutting edge laboratory investigations. Safe in vitro assays to look at virus infection can be used. Molecular investigations of the immune response can be carried out on safe samples derived from the patient samples in other high level containment facilities elsewhere. We have strong links with our colleagues in the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership who work with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences and the Connaught and 38 Military hospitals in Freetown to help improve healthcare in the wake of the epidemic.
We hope to do whatever we can to ensure that this kind of epidemic does not occur again by a) carrying out experiments to help find new therapeutics and diagnostics, b) facilitating sample collation and sharing amongst researchers to help different avenues of research c) helping with any teaching/training needs that we can to help build back the local healthcare systems and facilitate in country research by local professionals
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Duke of Kent Building, University of Surrey,
Guildford, GU2 7XH