Monkeys Cured of Ebola With Antibody Cocktail

Can a cure for humans be next?

The Ebola virus, shown here in an infected liver, is a deadly disease with no known cure in humans. (Photo: Kallista Images)

Jun 18, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

A combination of antibodies has cured monkeys soon after they were infected with the Ebola virus, making scientists optimistic about finding a cure for humans.

The journal Nature reports that researchers tested what they call an antibody “cocktail” on cynomolgus monkeys (otherwise known as macaques) who had the Zaire virus, the most virulent strain of Ebola commonly found in some African countries. Four monkeys that were given the treatment within 24 hours of being infected lived. Two out of four monkeys who got the antibodies within 48 hours of infection also recovered, and one monkey not treated died within five days of being infected.

“The antibodies slowed replication until the animals’ own immune systems kicked in and completely cleared the virus,” said Gary Kobinger, a medical microbiologist at the University of Manitoba, in Nature. Kobinger headed up the study, which was published recently in Science Translational Medicine.

The antibodies, the story explained, “target and neutralize a glycoprotein on the surface of the virus that allows it to enter and infect cells.” Although antibodies have been used before, the multiple antibodies in this three-drug therapy zero in on various glycoprotein sites, making it more difficult for the virus to defend itself.

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