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SA's Texas Biomedical Research Institute looks for cure to Ebola

Researchers have been looking for anti-viral agent, vaccine and better way to detect Ebola since 2003

SAN ANTONIO – Researchers at San Antonio's Texas Biomedical Research Institute are working on a cure for the Ebola virus, which is seeing its biggest outbreak ever in Africa.

More than a thousand Ebola virus cases have been reported in three African countries, with more than 700 deaths.

Americans are also being warned not to travel to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Ken Isaacs, spokesman for Samaritan's Purse charity, said there are fears about whether the spread of Ebola virus can be contained.

"If we don't fight it and contain it there, we will be fighting to contain it in other places," Isaacs said.

There are no cases in the U.S. but some doctors fear it's only a matter of time.

Dr. Jean Patterson, chair of the Department of Virology and Immunology at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, said this is the worst Ebola virus outbreak so far.

"Oh, by far," Patterson said. "It's easily three times larger than any other outbreak. "

Patterson can monitor researchers dressed in protective gear working with live Ebola virus samples from her office via a video camera system.

She said they are currently hard at work on Ebola virus samples.

"They are," Patterson said. "They're absolutely working with the Ebola virus right now."

The biosafety Level 4 laboratory has been researching Ebola since 2003 and has had some success.

"We know that we're making progress," Patterson said. "We're seeing some positive results."

And they have high hopes.

"We're looking for something, an anti-viral that could cure Ebola after an infection, we're looking for vaccines to prevent it," Patterson said.

They are also looking for better ways to detect the virus.

Until a cure is found, the best strategy has simply been to isolate Ebola virus victims to keep it from spreading.

In that regard the Peace Corps is pulling 340 volunteers out of Africa, with two being quarantined as a precaution.

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