Leeds University to lead the fight against Ebola

Uni scientists have been given £200k to fund research

Leeds University scientists have started research to find out what is needed to defeat the Ebola virus.

The school of Chemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology have received a Wellcome Trust grant of £200,000 to fund the research.

They’re hoping to successfully create anti-viral drugs for those who have already been infected.


Leeds scientists will be using a new form of testing by using a computer software loaded with a library of compounds and will match them up against the atomic structure of the Ebola virus.

They’ll then use the most promising compounds and see if they stop the growth and spread of Ebola.

Colin Fishwick, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University, said: “The use of the computer hugely increases our ability to identify the right compounds.

“It is a bit like trying to crack a password by brute force: we are able to run through hundreds of thousands of drug compound structures to see if they fit into key ‘holes’ we have identified in the structure of the virus.

“However, our computers are not dealing with strings of characters but minutely detailed 3D maps of molecules.”

Mark Harris, Professor of Virology at the University of Leeds added: “There are quite a few vaccines in various stages of development at the moment and some seem to be very promising. However, even if we do have a very successful vaccine for Ebola, we are going to need anti-virals.

“Getting enough vaccines to people in the communities most at risk from Ebola will be very difficult indeed. We already struggle with established vaccines like polio in some of these areas.”