New drug can prevent outbreaks of Marbug in monkeys

The National Institute of Health announced that a drug supported by the federal agency has shown it is capable of preventing outbreaks of Marbug hemorrhagic fever - similar to the Ebola virus - in test monkeys.

There is currently no licensed treatment for the highly lethal infection, according to the NIH. A recent study involving monkey test subjects showed that five of six monkeys survived a Marburg virus infection if given the vaccine within 24 hours of being infected. Two of six monkeys survived when treated within 48 hours.

The window of time to vaccinate a human infected with the virus may be even wider, according to the NIH, because rhesus macaques typically fall victim to the virus more quickly than humans.

Marburg hemorrhagic fever has a fatality rate of up to 80 percent, with those infected with the disease suffering shock, extensive bleeding and organ failure, the NIH said. There have been confirmed cases of the virus in about half a dozen African nations.

"Developing safe, effective, and rapidly deployable post-exposure treatments for filoviruses is an important scientific priority for our Institute," Anthony S. Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said. "The vaccine used in this study is among several novel approaches to treating filoviruses that show great potential."