ASM journals tipsheet: May 2001


An experimental treatment for Ebola virus infection using immune serum from survivors is effective in protecting mice from the disease, say researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and the U.S. Army Research Institute for Infectious Diseases. They report their results in the May 2001 issue of the Journal of Virology.

"Our data demonstrate that it is possible to confer protection against fatal infection with Ebola virus by transfer of polyclonal immune serum," say the researchers.

In the study, mice were injected with the deadly virus either just under the skin (subcutaneous) or in the abdomen (intraperitoneal). All the mice immunized subcutaneously showed now signs of illness and survived, while all those that received intraperitoneal injections died within 6 to 8 days. The researchers then collected immune serum from the surviving mice and tested its ability to both prevent and treat the disease in other mice. The serum successfully protected all mice exposed to the virus, regardless of whether it was administered before or after infection. It even worked on mice with impaired immune systems.

"Our data suggest that the use of convalescent-phase or immune serum as potential therapy for Ebola virus infection warrants further investigation," say the researchers.

(M. Gupta, S. Mahanty, M. Bray, R. Ahmed and P.E. Rollin. 2001. Passive transfer of antibodies protects immunocompetent and immunodeficient mice against lethal Ebola virus infection without complete inhibition of viral replication. Journal of Virology, 75: 4649-4654.)


A nasal spray containing bacteria from fermented milk may be a new preventive treatment for the flu. Researchers from Japan report promising results of this new therapy in mouse models in the May 2001 issue of the journal Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology.


Contact: Jim Sliwa
American Society for Microbiology

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