Given that the number of cases of ebola in Africa is rising exponentially, and given that ZMapp is not going to be available in sufficient quantities any time soon, is it possible to find/screen for a small drug entity or protein aptamer that would interfere with the oligomerization of ebola matrix proteins or inhibit the action of other ebola virus proteins?
I think the answer is yes. The RCSB, the publicly available repository of protein structures, has over 40 ebola virus proteins, some deposited this year. I have to assume that someone(s) is screening ACD or other compound databases with docking programs to find potential hits. It would be great if those of us who used to do this type of work would also be able to contribute.
However, while the structures are available, and much work can be done just using the structures, the papers that are associated with them frequently are not. The journals involved can charge up to $33/copy for each paper. This cost is prohibitive for most independent researchers. Come to think of it, so are the applications I used to use to dock libraries of compounds into structures. But even with the limited public software, we could still get a lot done if we were able to read the papers for free. Like I said, reading the structure papers is not absolutely necessary but it can be helpful.
So, if there is anyone out there who has influence with PubMed, could you look into it? Also, is anyone aware of a crowdsourcing effort to design drugs based on these structures? Just give a shout out if you know of one.
One more thing: It would be very helpful to know the latest mutation data in FASTA format in case homology models need to be created on currently available crystal structures. I see that the octamer was crystallized in 2002 and is from strain Zaire Mayinga. If I’m not mistaken, the current epidemic is from a different strain. (though this protein may be more resistant to mutations? Dunno. Need to read the papers.)