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New Therapy May Combat Lethal Virus in Late Stages

THURSDAY, Aug. 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new agent tested in nonhuman primates shows efficacy in the treatment of the Marburg virus (MARV), a filovirus which is closely related to the Ebola virus, even in the late stages of the infection, according to research published in the Aug. 20 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Emily P. Thi, of Tekmira Pharmaceuticals in Burnaby, Canada, and colleagues assessed the efficacy of lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery of anti-MARV nucleoprotein (NP)-targeting small interfering RNA (siRNA) in rhesus monkeys that were challenged with a lethal dose of the virus.

The researchers found that among 16 rhesus monkeys treated with LNP containing anti-MARV NP siRNA starting at 30 to 45 minutes, one day, two days, or three days after virus challenge, all survived the infection. Control animals that received mock treatment or no treatment died of the infection within seven to nine days of virus challenge.

"These results represent the successful demonstration of therapeutic anti-MARV-Angola efficacy in nonhuman primates and highlight the substantial impact of an LNP-delivered siRNA therapeutic as a countermeasure against this highly lethal human disease," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial interests in this treatment for filovirus infections.

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