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Antibodies Protect Monkeys From Ebola, Marburg Viruses

Treatments using antibodies proved able in testing to counter infection in monkeys exposed to the Ebola and Marburg viruses, the U.S. Army announced on Tuesday (see GSN, March 1).

The filoviruses can kill up to 90 percent of infected humans and are seen as possible tools of biological terrorism. No vaccines or other therapeutic treatments have been authorized for use in fighting the hemorrhagic fevers.

The findings by researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases go counter to close to 10 years of filovirus research in which monkeys have died even after receiving treatments featuring antibodies, according to a USAMRIID press release.

"The use of antibodies as a treatment for infectious diseases is a well established technology, with multiple products having received approval from the Food and Drug Administration," researcher John Dye said in released comments. "With these findings, we have provided proof-of-concept that antibody-based therapies can indeed be used to effectively treat filovirus infections."

Dye and other researchers at the institute at Fort Detrick in Maryland collected the disease-fighting proteins from monkeys that had lived after being infected with deadly levels of filoviruses, the release states.

An initial study provided monkeys with antibody treatments between 15 and 30 minutes after exposure to the Marburg virus. Further treatments were delivered four and eight days afterward. None of the test animals exhibited indications of infection and the virus could not be found in their blood. In addition, all the monkeys proved protected when exposed again to the virus.

Further study involved infecting monkeys with the Ebola or Marburg virus. The animals received antibody therapeutics two, four and eight days after infection. In both groups of three animals, two monkeys did not become sick while a third exhibited "mild symptoms" before recovering, the release states (U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases release, March 13).


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