Marburg treatment candidate shows success in post-exposure tests

An experimental drug candidate to treat infection from the potential bioagent Marburg virus recently demonstrated significant survival rates in animal trials.

The treatment, known as AVI-7288, was able to offer post-exposure prophylaxis when administered four days after the onset of Marburg virus infection, which causes severe, life-threatening hemorrhagic fever.

The U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense - Joint Project Manager Transformational Medical Technologies funded the drug's development and Sarepta Therapeutics, formerly AVIBioPharma, conducted the study with the help of the U.S. Army Advanced Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

During the trial, four groups of non-human primates infected with Marburg virus received AVI-7288 daily, beginning immediately, one, two or four days after exposure. The results showed a high rate of survival, between 83 and 100 percent. None of placebo-treated control group survived infection.

"Showing efficacy when used up to four days post infection is a very significant step in the development of the Marburg drug candidate," David Hough, the joint project manager for JPM-TMT, said. "Our goal is to protect the warfighter and the nation from naturally occurring or weaponized viruses and this new development means that we may soon be able to offer treatments for a lethal and fast-acting virus even days after the suspected exposure."

The ongoing study will continue to monitor the animals post-treatment for 40 days. The researchers intend to monitor additional indicators, including liver enzymes and renal markers.