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Vaccine given post-exposure protects monkeys against deadly Marburg virus

WHAT: Marburg haemorrhagic fever is an uncommon disease. In some outbreaks in Africa, nearly 90 percent of cases have been fatal. Such high mortality rates make Marburg virus, the agent that causes the disease, a great concern for researchers developing medical countermeasures against potential bioterrorist threats. Currently there is no effective way to prevent or treat Marburg virus after someone is infected, but new research appearing in this week’s issue of the journal The Lancet may change that.

A study by a group of U.S. and Canadian researchers has revealed that a vaccine made from an attenuated recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) and administered to five rhesus macaques 20 to 30 minutes after exposure to a high dose of Marburg virus helped all of them survive. Three control monkeys not protected with the vaccine all died within two weeks. This result demonstrates that it may be possible to use rVSV vaccines to treat Marburg and similar viruses, such as Ebola, after infection. Studies are now in progress to determine how late after exposure these vaccines might be beneficial.

ARTICLE: "Postexposure protection against Marburg haemorrhagic fever with recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus vectors in non-human primates: an efficacy assessment," by KM Daddario-DiCaprio et al. The Lancet DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68546-2 (2006). This study was conducted by scientists at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences; the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases; the Public Health Agency of Canada; the University of Manitoba; and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

SPOKESPERSON: Peter B. Jahrling, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, NIAID Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, is available to comment on the study’s findings.

Jason Bardi | EurekAlert!
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