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University of Guelph Researchers Investigate Potential New Way to Fight Ebola

PhD student Laura van Lieshout and Prof. Sarah Wootton, University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College University of Guelph researchers have shown that an innovative antibody delivery method could offer an effective way to prevent and treat Ebola infection. 

“Our goal is to make an antibody-based therapy that can protect against all strains of Ebola, and potentially Marburg virus as well,” says Prof. Sarah Wootton, Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. 

Wootton, along with PhD student Laura van Lieshout, found a new way to fight Ebola. “It would be used to stop the spread of the virus in outbreak situations.”

The approach delivers a monoclonal antibody gene through a viral vector, something that has been done before, most notably with human immunodeficiency virus. The process bypasses the need for the host to generate a natural immune response, which can take several weeks to occur, and often too late for Ebola victims.

The U of G researchers found that using adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver antibodies was remarkably effective at keeping Ebola virus infection at bay in mice. Other researchers have used AAV extensively to treat a variety of genetic disorders.

“If you use an AAV gene therapy vector to deliver the DNA blueprint to a cell, that cell will produce a protective antibody against Ebola virus, which is then secreted into the bloodstream and protects mice from infection,” says Wootton.

The approach provided 100-per-cent protection against Ebola infection in mice using two different types of monoclonal antibody therapies (mAbs), and 83-per-cent protection with a third. A “cocktail” of two antibodies provided sustained protection against Ebola for up to five months.

Read the entire article on the University of Guelph website.

Photo: PhD student Laura van Lieshout and Prof. Sarah Wootton, University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College