A colorized transmission electron micrograph of the Ebola virus is seen in this CDC handout.
Center for Disease Control—Getty Images
November 7, 2014 11:33 AM EST

A group of prominent scientists wrote a letter to American health officials that proposed the search for Ebola treatments and vaccines include using the blood of survivors to harness the antibodies that beat the virus, according to a review of the proposal.

Reuters reports that the letter proposes using passive immunization — an approach that differs with the drug development going on today, which leans more toward isolating one or several molecules — so scientists could determine the genetic makeup of different Ebola antibodies and reproduce them as a single treatment. The proposed method is similar to one used to fight HIV.

Nobel laureates James Watson, who co-discovered the double helix structure of DNA and David Baltimore, an influential molecular biologist, are among the signatories of the letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services, members of Congress and research companies. The World Health Organization reports that nearly 5,000 people have died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa this year.

Read more at Reuters

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Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com.

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