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News Article

Experimental antibody cocktail protects animals from Ebola

Scientists have developed a combination of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that protected animals from all three Ebola viruses known to cause human disease. Their findings are described in two studies published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

The mAb cocktail, called MBP134, is the first experimental treatment to protect monkeys against Ebola virus (formerly known as Ebola Zaire), as well as Sudan virus and Bundibugyo virus, and could lead to a broadly effective therapeutic, according to the authors.

No Ebola virus treatment has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. An experimental vaccine and several experimental therapeutics, including three based on mAbs, are being studied in the field. Despite their promise, all target only a single Ebola virus (Zaire) and are ineffective against the other two.

"Developing a single treatment that could potentially be used for patients suffering from all the different types of Ebola viruses is an enormous advancement in the field," commented John M. Dye, Ph.D. of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), one of the authors.

"This discovery has implications not only for the treatment of Sudan and Bundibugyo viruses, but for newly emerging Ebola viruses as well," Dye added,

The two mAbs that make up MBP134 were previously discovered by the same research team in the blood of a human survivor of the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in Western Africa and were shown to target key sites of vulnerability shared by Ebola viruses.

In the first study, a team led by Kartik Chandran of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Einstein) engineered one of the mAbs to improve its activity against Sudan virus. They demonstrated that this enhanced mAb could work especially well with the second naturally occurring mAb to block infection by all three viruses and protect guinea pigs against both Ebola virus and Sudan virus. Additional modification of both mAbs to harness the power of natural killer (NK) immune cells enhanced MBP134's broad protective efficacy in guinea pigs even further.

In the second study, a team led by Dr Zachary A. Bornholdt of Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. (MappBio) evaluated the MBP134 cocktail in large animal models that mimic Ebola virus disease in humans more closely. They found that a single low dose of MBP134 could protect monkeys against all three Ebola viruses associated with human disease, even when treatment was begun 4-7 days after the animals were infected.

This research is the result of a public-private partnership betweenUS Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Einstein, MappBio, Adimab LLC (Lebanon, NH) led by Laura M. Walker, Public Health Agency of Canada, led by Xiangguo Qiu; Ragon Institute, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galvestont.

MBP134 is currently being developed by MappBio in collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with an indication for Sudan virus.

References: Wec et al. (2019) Development of a Human Antibody Cocktail that Deploys Multiple Functions to Confer Pan-Ebolavirus Protection. Cell Host & Microbe 25, 39-48. January 9, 2019.

Bornholdt et al. (2019) A Two-Antibody Pan-Ebolavirus Cocktail Confers Broad Therapeutic Protection in Ferrets and Nonhuman Primates. Cell Host & Microbe 25, 49-58. January 9, 2019.

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • M Djuric, DVM
  • Date
  • 11 January 2019
  • Source
  • US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious D
  • Subject(s)
  • Zoo-, Wild-, Laboratory-, and Other Animals