Researchers reveal new way to potentially fight Ebola

March 6, 2018, University of Guelph

More than 11,000 people died during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2013-16, demonstrating both the deadly nature of the virus and the limitations of the medication used to fight it.

Now, University of Guelph researchers have shown that an innovative antibody delivery method could offer an effective way to prevent and treat Ebola infection.

"Our goal is to make an antibody-based therapy that can protect against all strains of Ebola, and potentially Marburg , as well," says Prof. Sarah Wootton, Department of Pathobiology, who, along with PhD student Laura van Lieshout, found a new way to fight Ebola. "It would be used to stop the spread of the virus in outbreak situations."

Wootton says monoclonal antibody therapies (mAbs) hold promise for the treatment of Ebola virus infections. But mAbs are costly to produce and provide only short-term immunity.

That could change, thanks to a recent discovery by Wootton and van Lieshout. Their findings were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The approach delivers a monoclonal antibody gene through a viral vector, something that has been done before, most notably with . The process bypasses the need for the host to generate a natural immune response, which can take several weeks to occur, and often too late for Ebola victims.

The U of G researchers found that using adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver was remarkably effective at keeping Ebola virus infection at bay in mice. Other researchers have used AAV extensively to treat a variety of genetic disorders. The United States Food and Drug Administration has recently approved an AAV gene therapy to treat a rare retinal disorder.

"If you use an AAV gene therapy vector to deliver the DNA blueprint to a cell, that cell will produce a protective antibody against Ebola virus, which is then secreted into the bloodstream and protects mice from infection," says Wootton.

The approach provided 100-per-cent protection against Ebola infection in mice using two different types of mAb, and 83-per-cent protection with a third. A "cocktail" of two antibodies provided sustained protection against Ebola for up to five months.

Once the antibody gene is delivered, antibodies will be continually produced in the bloodstream, Wootton says. Mice in the laboratory expressed the antibody for more than 300 days.

"We are hoping to use this technology in a post-exposure scenario. Let's say someone has been exposed to Ebola. The idea would be to give them this AAV vector to start producing the antibodies that prevent death."

Her Ebola research was sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and was done in collaboration with renowned microbiologists Xiangguo Qiu and Gary Kobinger at Winnipeg's National Microbiology Lab, Public Health Agency of Canada.

"Developing pan-Ebola or pan-filovirus vaccines and therapeutics has been a goal for all the scientists in the field," said Qiu. "Our preliminary data is really encouraging and we will move forward to develop pan-Ebola/pan-filovirus cocktails."

Wootton is now seeking research funding for human clinical trials from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, formed after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Explore further: Ebola virus infects reproductive organs in monkeys

Related Stories

Ebola virus infects reproductive organs in monkeys

February 8, 2018
Ebola virus can infect the reproductive organs of male and female macaques, according to a study published in The American Journal of Pathology, suggesting that humans could be similarly infected. Prior studies of survivors ...

Researchers inhibit Ebola virus

December 29, 2017
The incurable Ebola virus has long been feared due to its high mortality rate and danger of infection. Now researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Phillips Universität Marburg have succeeded in inhibiting the virus ...

Experimental Ebola antibody protects monkeys

February 25, 2016
Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues have discovered that a single monoclonal antibody—a protein that attacks viruses—isolated ...

Experimental immunotherapy zaps two most lethal Ebola virus strains

January 13, 2016
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) have engineered the first antibodies that can potently neutralize the two deadliest strains ...

Scientists discover workings of first promising Marburg virus treatment

January 10, 2018
With a mortality rate of up to 88 percent, Marburg virus can rip through a community in days. In 2005, an outbreak of Marburg virus struck a pediatric ward in the country of Angola. With no treatment available, doctors struggled ...

Super cell to contain deadly Ebola virus discovered in Australia

July 18, 2017
A super cell in the eye has been discovered that can stop the deadly Ebola virus.

Recommended for you

Research finds new way to determine protection of Men B vaccine against different strains

June 18, 2018
Researchers at the University of Leicester and Meningococcal Reference Unit have developed a new approach to assess the effectiveness of the Men B vaccine, Bexsero, against different strains that cause meningococcal meningitis ...

Recent clinical trial finds tamsulosin not effective in kidney stone passage

June 18, 2018
The latest research into finding medications to aid the passage of ureteral or kidney stones has shown that tamsulosin is not effective for patients across the board. Previously approved to help men experiencing enlarged ...

Novel molecular target to prevent scarring of the lung blood vessels identified

June 13, 2018
Pulmonary arterial hypertension, a severe form of cardiopulmonary disease in which the arteries that transport blood from the heart to the lungs become thickened, constricted, and scarred, is a disease for which there is ...

Lineage of TB traced and compared to early human migration

June 13, 2018
A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Iowa and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has carried out genetic studies of tuberculosis to learn more about its lineage and to compare it ...

Fast-acting cholera vaccine could curb outbreaks

June 13, 2018
A tricked-out cholera vaccine starts protecting against the deadly disease within a day, experiments in rabbits suggest. The rapid protection offered by this designer vaccine may one day limit the spread of cholera outbreaks, ...

Finally, hope for a syphilis vaccine

June 12, 2018
Despite efforts to eradicate it, syphilis is on the rise. Until now, most health agencies focused on treating infected people and their sex partners but new discoveries may make a vaccine possible, UConn Health researchers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.