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New Breakthrough Paving the Way for Universal Ebola Therapeutic

Updated 163 days ago

A new collaborative study has identified and studied Ebola antibodies that could be used to design universal therapeutics that are effective against many different Ebola species. The findings were recently published in Nature Microbiology.

The Ebola virus causes a severe illness with high mortality rates in humans. Several strategies have been developed to treat Ebola infection, including ZMapp, which has been shown to be effective in non-human primates and has been used under compassionate-treatment protocols in humans.

“The trouble with ZMapp is that although it is effective against the Ebola species that was largely responsible for the last Ebola outbreak, it does not neutralize other Ebola species, including Ebola Bundibugyo, Reston or Sudan,” said virologist Alex Bukreyev, co-senior author and a University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston professor in the department of pathology. “We identified and studied three naturally-occurring antibodies from human survivors of Ebola Bundibugyo that neutralize and protect against infection with the several different Ebola virus species.”

The newly identified antibodies bond at a different site on the Ebola virus than other antibodies currently used to develop Ebola therapies.

Information on the Ebola virus:

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Ebola was first discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the virus has been infecting people from time to time, leading to outbreaks in several African countries.

Some of the different kinds of Ebola viruses are:

  • Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus)
  • Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus)
  • Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus)
  • Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus)
  • Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), known to cause disease in nonhuman primates and pigs, but not in people

Other authors include UTMB’s Natalia Kuzmina, Philipp linykh, Xiaoli Shen, Kai Huang, Palaniappan Ramanathan, Thomas Ksiazek and Alexander Bukreyev; Andrew Flyak, Pavlo Gilchuk, Christopher Gulka, Rebecca Lampley, Nurgun Kose, Hannah King, Gopal Sapparapu, David Wright and James Crowe, Jr. from Vanderbilt University; Charles Murin, Hannah Turner, Marnie Fusco, Erica Ollmann Saphire and Andrew Ward from  The Scripps Research Institute as well as Christopher Bryan, Edgar Davidson and Benjamin Doranz from Integral Molecular, Inc.

The study was supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the National Institutes of Health. 

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH
Texas' first academic health center opened its doors in 1891 and today has three campuses, four health sciences schools, four institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, a Level 1 Trauma Center and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout Galveston County and the Texas Gulf Coast region. UTMB Health is an institution in the University of Texas System and a member of the Texas Medical Center. 

Article written by Raul Reyes

Raul Reyes, director of media relations at UTMB, has an extensive background in communications with more than 30 years experience in journalism. Before joining UTMB in 2007, he was an editor at The New York Times and also worked as an editor at the Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News. When he and his wife, Linda, worked at the Houston Chronicle in the 1980s, they used to dream about living and working in Galveston. Some things do come true. Raul is at UTMB and Linda edits a couple of Dallas magazines from their home in Galveston.

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