News Release 

Combination therapy protects against advanced Marburg virus disease

* New paper published in Nature Communications shows effectiveness of combining monoclonal antibodies and remdesivir in defense of lethal MARV.

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Research News

GALVESTON, Texas - A new study conducted at the Galveston National Laboratory at the The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) has shown substantial benefit to combining monoclonal antibodies and the antiviral remdesivir against advanced Marburg virus. The study was published today in Nature Communications.

"Marburg is a highly virulent disease in the same family as the virus that causes Ebola. In Africa, patients often arrive to a physician very ill. It was important to test whether a combination of therapies would work better with really sick people, said Tom Geisbert, a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at UTMB and the principal investigator for the study. "Our data suggests that this particular combination allowed for recovery when given at a very late stage of disease."

Dr. Zachary A. Bornholdt, Senior Director of Antibody Discovery and Research for Mapp Biopharmaceutical and a co-author on the study, said, "Often small molecules and antibodies are positioned to compete with each other for a single therapeutic indication. Here we see the benefit of pursuing both treatment strategies in tandem and ultimately finding synergy upon combining both approaches together."

Geisbert, Bornholdt and a large team at UTMB, Mapp Biopharmaceuticals and Gilead have been developing monoclonal antibody (mAbs) therapies to treat extremely dangerous viruses like Marburg and Ebola for several years. The treatments have proven to be highly effective in laboratory studies and emergency use, particularly when delivered early in the disease course.

In this study, using a rhesus model, treatment with monoclonal antibodies began six days post infection, a critical point in disease progression. The combination therapy with the antiviral remdesivir showed an 80 percent protection rate, indicating promise for treatment of advanced Marburg infections.

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The study was supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health grant U19AI142785 and UC7AI094660 for BSL-4 operations support of the Galveston National Laboratory.

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ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MEDICAL BRANCH:

Texas' first academic health center opened its doors in 1891 and today has four campuses, four health sciences schools, four institutes for advanced study, a research enterprise that includes one of only two national laboratories dedicated to the safe study of infectious threats to human health, a Level 1 Trauma Center and a health system offering a full range of primary and specialized medical services throughout the Texas Gulf Coast region. UTMB is an institution in the University of Texas System and a member of the Texas Medical Center.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical was founded in 2003 to develop novel monoclonal antibody pharmaceuticals for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, focusing on unmet needs in global health and biodefense. Gilead is a biopharmaceutical company involved in the development and delivery of innovative therapeutics for people with life-threatening diseases.

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