This is a colorized electron micrograph of the Marburg virus.
Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Tom Geisbert, University of Texas Medical Branch
Scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health have found that an experimental treatment cured 100 percent of guinea pigs and rhesus monkeys in late stages of infection with lethal levels of Marburg and Ravn viruses, relatives of the Ebola virus. Although the Marburg and Ravn viruses are less familiar than Ebola virus, both can resemble Ebola in symptoms and outcomes in people, and both lack preventive and therapeutic countermeasures.
The study was led by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston National Laboratory and Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc., and included collaborators from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria, and The Scripps Research Institute. The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provided project funding.
The researchers are now working with NIAID’s preclinical services group to perform the additional safety testing necessary to advance the monoclonal antibody treatment to initial human clinical studies. Public health workers learned during the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that lack of available treatment options kept diseased and at-risk people away from treatment centers, making disease tracking and outbreak containment more difficult. They fear the same situation would develop in a large-scale Marburg outbreak.
Chad E. Mire, Joan B. Geisbert, Viktoriya Borisevich, Karla A. Fenton, Krystle N. Agans, Andrew I. Flyak, Daniel J. Deer, Herta Steinkellner, Ognian Bohorov, Natasha Bohorova, Charles Goodman, Andrew Hiatt, Do H. Kim, Michael H. Pauly, Jesus Velasco, Kevin J. Whaley, James E. Crowe, Larry Zeitlin, Thomas W. Geisbert. Therapeutic treatment of Marburg and Ravn virus infection in nonhuman primates with a human monoclonal antibody. Science Translational Medicine, 2017 2017; 9 (384): eaai8711 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8711