Maryland biotechs partner to defeat Marburg, Ebola viruses

Two Maryland biotechnology companies, the Baltimore-based Paragon Bioservices and the Gaithersburg-based MaxCyte, recently began working together to produce experimental vaccines for the deadly Marburg and Ebola viruses.

Ebola and Marburg are classified as filoviruses, which can carry an up to a 90 percent fatality rate in humans. As a result, the viruses are classified as potential bioterrorism agents. There are no vaccines available for either virus for humans or animals, reports.

Paragon purchased two transfection systems from MaxCyte that can be used in the contract manufacturing of recombinant proteins, vaccines, viral vectors, antibodies and virus-like particles. Paragon was awarded a Department of Defense contract in January to develop and manufacture a filovirus vaccine.

"We are delighted that Paragon values the speed, robustness and scalability of MaxCyte transfection systems," Douglas Doerfler, the CEO of MaxCyte, said, according to

There are five strains of the Ebola virus, including Sudan and Zaire. Ebola outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in West and Central Africa, near tropical rain forests. The disease is transmitted from wild animals to humans and is then able to spread from human-to-human, according to the World Health Organization.

Between 1976 and 2011, Ebola virus killed 1,540 people in West and Central Africa.

In November, the WHO reported 20 probable or confirmed Marburg virus cases, including nine deaths in Uganda, reports.