Treatment proves effective against Ebola virus

A new Ebola monoclonal antibody treatment developed by a collaboration including the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases has proved effective in preventing the spread of the virus in non-human primates.

In the online version of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers described how they used a mixture of monoclonal antibodies, or mAbs, known as MB-003, to prevent the illness in rhesus macaques.

MB-003 was capable of protecting all of the animals in the study when administered within one hour of being challenged with the virus. Approximately two-thirds of the macaques survived when the vaccine was administered within 48 hours of the challenge.

Dr. Gene Olinger, a USAMRIID virologist, said the recently released study is the culmination of a decade-long effort between the federal government and several industry partners.

"It is rare that an antiviral compound prevents Ebola virus infection with limited to no morbidity in treated animals at any point of treatment following infection by this lethal virus," Olinger said. "Until recently, attempts to utilize antibodies to provide protection against Ebola virus have been met with failure. The level of protection against disease that we saw with MB-003 was impressive."

The authors said the production method utilized in the research offers the potential to produce an economical, as well as effective, countermeasure against the disease, which normally has a fatality rate of nearly 90 percent. MB-003 was successfully humanized for the study and was produced using a tobacco plant-based system.

"We were pleased to see how well the humanized mAbs of MB-003 performed," Dr. Larry Zeitlin, the president of Mapp Biopharmaceutical and the senior author on the study, said. "We also were pleasantly surprised by the superiority of the plant-derived mAbs compared to the same mAbs produced in traditional mammalian cell culture."