As the Ebola outbreak continues to spread throughout West Africa and some U.S. hospitals test sick patients for the virus, researchers are hard at work looking for ways to trick the highly-contagious, highly lethal organism.
They are using tools of molecular biology to mimic or interfere with the virus to make vaccines or treatments for the next outbreak. Many of these drug candidates are still stuck in the laboratory, pending federal approval and private money.
Watch "Ebola: Are We Next?" on Thursday, Sep. 18, starting at 9/8c on both Discovery Channel and Discovery Fit & Health.
The evolving and sporadic nature of Ebola has made it tough for researchers to follow the well-worn path for drug development, according to Justin Julander, research associate professor of virology at Utah State University, who is working on ways to use animal models to test drugs for Ebola, yellow fever and other super-diseases.
"The outbreaks are so random, you may have a huge problem," Julander said. "It's difficult to plan a clinical trial for something like Ebola."