SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2018

Scripps team studies new treatments for Marburg virus

New treatments for Marburg virus
New treatments for Marburg virus | Courtesy of
A team of scientists from the Scripps Research Institute (SRI) recently conducted a study to identify noel immune molecules to protect people against Marburg virus, which is related to Ebola.

The research offers ingredients that will be necessary in creating treatments for future outbreaks of Marburg. Developing treatments is extremely important as Marburg has a 90 percent mortality rate. As of today, there are no effective treatments or vaccines against Marburg infections. These new antibodies both identify and eliminate Marburg virus. SRI, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Biotherapeutics and BioSolutions collaborated in an academic-industrial partnership to conduct the study.

"These antibodies attack a new site on Marburg virus we had not seen before," Erica Ollmann Saphire, senior author of the new study, said. Marburg is also a professor at SRI and director of the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium.

"We expect both Marburg virus and Ebola virus to emerge again and to acquire new mutations," Marnie Fusco, SRI research assistant and first author of the new study, said. Fusco suggested the cross-reactive antibodies could be used as diagnostics for newly emerging strains.

"The high cost of creating independent vaccines or treatments for each of the different viruses in this family necessitates intelligent design of immunogens (antibody-inducing molecules),” Jody Berry, the former director of pipeline research of Emergent BioSolutions, which initiated the study with Saphire six years ago, said. “The molecular images used to design the molecules and evaluate the antibodies point the way forward.”

Cory Nykiforuk, current director of pipeline research of Emergent BioSolutions, said understanding where and how the antibodies interact with the virus tells us which regions can be targeted and helps us develop lead candidates for clinical development.

"There are multiple filoviruses that threaten our communities, front line medical workers and defense personnel," he said. "And bringing new technologies to the forefront could potentially help meet future requirements."

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Scripps Research Institute

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