Monkeys survive lethal Ebola and Marbug

24 August 2010

Posted by:

Category: Research & medical benefits

monkey–rhesus.jpgMonkeys treated with a therapy that targets specific viral genes survived deadly Ebola and Marbug infections, a new study reports.

Both Ebola and Marbug viruses cause high fevers and haemorrhaging which frequently lead to death. Currently there are no vaccines or medicines licensed to counter infections with these viruses.

Scientists working with 'antisense' compounds developed a therapy which was 90% successful in guinea pigs and mice whether it was administered before or after exposure to the Ebola virus. It is believed that the antisense compound enters host cells and prevents the pathogen from replicating. This gives time for the host to build an effective immune response.

As the therapy was successful in mice and guinea pigs the team then went on to conduct trials in rhesus monkeys. Of the eight monkeys exposed to the virus, five survived when the antisense medicine was delivered 30-60 minutes after infection.

The Marbug virus was studied in a similar way. Researchers developed an antisense therapy known as AVI-6003 which had at least 90% success rate in trials on guinea pigs and mice. 13 Cynomolgus monkeys all survived when treated between 30-60 minutes after exposure to the virus.

The US Food and Drugs Administration has now granted permission for both antisense treatments to proceed to clinical trials.