New antibody discovery may lead to effective Ebola treatment

A new antibody has proven successful against Ebola in primate testing. | Courtesy of Shutterstock

A newly discovered monoclonal antibody has been tested against the human Ebola virus in primates and has proven to protect primates against the Ebola virus, even up to five days after the initial infection.

The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) sector has recently released the news of the antibody, and that it can now move onto human testing as a possibility for treatment against Ebola.

After studying blood samples from a 1995 Ebola survivor in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, scientists found specific antibodies that were later isolated and tested for therapeutic use against other Ebola outbreaks by the Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Switzerland. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases followed up with the research in testing the antibodies against Ebola in four rhesus macaques. All of the monkeys were injected with the Ebola virus. Five days later, three of the macaques were administered the monoclonal antibody -- now known as mAb114 -- for three days. The three monkeys that had been injected with the mAb114 survived and showed no signs of Ebola, while the control macaque died nine days later.

Multiple research facilities, such as NIAID, Dartmouth College and Tsingua University, have studied how the mAb114 antibody works, discovering that it attaches to a protein in the Ebola virus and thus disallows it from harming human cells. It is the only antibody that has proven able to break into the Ebola virus before it interacts with human cells, making it a viable possibility for treating Ebola in the future.

Ebola claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa during 2014 and 2015 alone; because there is currently no science against Ebola, the breakthrough is significant. Science published two articles on the new discovery on Feb. 25.

Organizations in this story

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) 5601 Fishers Lane, MSC 9806 Bethesda, MD 20892-9806

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