"The (Ebola) virus mutates rapidly," Jeffrey Kugelman of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), the lead author of the study, said in a statement.

In the US journal mBio, Kugelman and colleagues described the "genomic drift", or natural evolution of the virus, and how it may interrupt the action of potential therapies designed to target the virus's genetic sequence.

According to the study, three types of genetic sequence-based treatments -- monoclonal antibody, small-interfering RNA and phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer drugs -- being evaluated during the current outbreak.

All were developed using Ebola virus strains from two smaller outbreaks that occurred in 1976 and 1995.Working with investigators from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the USAMRIID team compared the current strain, called EBOV/Mak, with the two previous strains that caused outbreaks in 1976 and 1995 in Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In each comparison, the researchers found more than 600 genetic mutations, which account for about three percent of the genome.The researchers urged that drug developers should check whether these mutations affect the efficacy of their therapeutic drugs, which are being used to treat small numbers of patients under a World Health Organisation (WHO) emergency protocol.

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