Antibody finding raises hopes for Marburg, COVID-19 treatments

Marburg is a distant, more lethal cousin of the RNA virus that causes COVID-19. An outbreak of Marburg hemorrhagic fever in Angola in 2004-2005 killed 90% of the approximately 250 people it infected. 

Now researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and Vanderbilt University Medical Center led by Alexander Bukreyev, PhD, and James Crowe, MD, have isolated non-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies from a Marburg survivor that protect animals from being killed by the virus. 

The antibodies bound to the outer envelope protein of the Marburg virus. And while they didn’t kill the virus directly, they recruited other immune cells and antibodies that rapidly cleared the infection. 

These findings, reported last week in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, suggest that the unique biological properties of these antibodies make them attractive candidates for therapeutic, monoclonal antibody “cocktails” against Marburg infection, the researchers concluded. 

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