Marburg immunity development identified

Professor of pathology, mocrobiology and immunology, Alexander Bukreyev, | Courtesy of the University of Texas Medical Branch

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) announced Thursday that a team of researchers collaborating with Vanderbilt University and The Scripps Research Institute has identified immunity development in Marburg virus cases.

The study consisted of using a blood sample taken from a Marburg case that was considered severe but not fatal. Using this sample,  researchers were able to determine how the antibodies combat the virus. The study indicated that antibodies bind to the virus in the same spot used in early stages of infection.

“Three years ago, when we started this collaborative work with James Crowe’s laboratory at Vanderbilt University, not much was known about the mechanisms of antibody immune response to the filoviruses Marburg and Ebola,” UTMB virology professor and co-senior author Alex Bukreyev said. “It was even unclear whether an infected person can develop an effective antibody response to these infections. During these years, the whole area of research moved forward dramatically.”

The Marburg virus is related to and and causes similar symptoms to the Ebola virus, and is considered a highly dangerous biologic agent. With mechanisms being identified, researchers can develop antibody-based treatment for other cases of Marburg and Ebola viral diseases.

This study was published in the most recent edition of the journal Cell.