Monoclonal antibodies can successfully protect the nonhuman primates against Marburg and Ravn virus even after five days of infection, finds a recent study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Vanderbilt University.
The study findings were published in Science Translational Medicine.
There are currently no vaccines or drugs approved for human use to protect against the Marburg and Ravn viruses. These two filoviruses, which are in the same virus family as Ebola, cause severe and often lethal disease in people. The average case fatality rate of Marburg virus disease since the first recognized outbreak in 1967 is 80 percent.
"In this paper, we demonstrated that one monoclonal antibody is able to protect up to 100 percent of Marburg or Ravn virus-infected non-human primates when the antibody treatment is given up to five days following exposure to a lethal amount of the virus," said UTMB's Thomas Geisbert, professor in the department of microbiology and immunology. "These findings extend the growing body of evidence that monoclonal antibodies can provide protection during advanced stages of disease with highly dangerous viruses and could be useful during an epidemic."
The study was conducted in Biosafety Level (BSL)-4 at UTMB's Galveston National Laboratory. BSL-4 is a highly-restricted area where scientists wear positive pressure protective suits and study pathogens that cause severe and often fatal diseases. UTMB has the only functioning BSL-4 laboratory located on an American university campus.
The 2013 to 2016 Ebola virus epidemic highlighted the troubling lack of preventive or treatment options for filoviruses. Some of the therapeutics used to treat those infected with Ebola were developed and tested in the GNL.
"The level of protection observed by Dr. Geisbert's team with this antibody is very impressive. We plan to advance this product towards human safety testing as quickly as possible," said Larry Zeitlin, president of Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.