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Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola

from Nature News

Monkeys infected with Ebola have been cured by a cocktail of three antibodies first administered 24 hours or more after exposure. The result raises hopes that a future treatment could improve the chances of humans surviving the disease caused by the deadly virus, which kills up to 90% of infected people and could potentially be used as a biological weapon. Most treatment regimes tested to date only improve chances of survival if administered within one hour of infection. There are no approved treatments for people infected with Ebola.

Researchers based at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada, administered an antibody cocktail named ZMAb to cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) infected with the Zaire virus -- the deadliest strain of Ebola, prevalent in African countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. All four of the monkeys that began the three-dose treatment regime within 24 hours of being infected survived. Two of four monkeys given the cocktail from 48 hours of infection also lived. A monkey that was not treated died within five days of infection.

"The antibodies slowed replication until the animals' own immune systems kicked in and completely cleared the virus," says Gary Kobinger, a medical microbiologist at the University of Manitoba who led the study. The results are published today in Science Translational Medicine.

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