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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Monoclonal Antibody Cures Marburg Infection in Monkeys

Scientists funded by NIH have found that an experimental treatment cured 100 percent of guinea pigs and rhesus monkeys in late stages of infection with lethal levels of Marburg and Ravn viruses, relatives of the Ebola virus. Although the Marburg and Ravn viruses are less familiar than Ebola virus, both can resemble Ebola in symptoms and outcomes in people and both lack preventive and therapeutic countermeasures.

The research was published Apr. 5 in Science Translational Medicine.

The study involved giving the animals a therapeutic candidate, MR191-N, which is a monoclonal antibody derived from a person who survived Marburg disease. Monoclonal antibodies are immune system fighters designed to bind to a specific part of an invading virus or bacterium to treat disease. 

The authors report that two doses of MR191-N were able to confer protection of up to 100 percent when treatment was started up to 5 days post infection. Prior studies of different experimental Marburg treatments involved daily dosing for 7 and 14 days, respectively, with treatment beginning closer to the time of infection.

The study was led by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston National Laboratory and Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc., and included collaborators from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria and the Scripps Research Institute. NIAID provided project funding.

The researchers are now working with NIAID’s preclinical services group to perform the additional safety testing necessary to advance the monoclonal antibody treatment to initial human clinical studies.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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