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Old 06-10-2015, 04:11 PM   #1
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Default NIH Scientists Compare West African Ebola Virus and Original 1976 Strains

This study doesn't even approach being definitive due to the miniscule sample size. But the results are still interesting.



West African Ebola Virus Strain Less Virulent Than Prototype 1976 Strain
Comparison Shows Delayed Disease Progression


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​WHAT:
The Makona strain of Ebola virus (EBOV) circulating in West Africa for the past year takes roughly two days longer to cause terminal disease in an animal model compared to the original 1976 Mayinga strain isolated in Central Africa, according to a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) report. The results provide important information to scientists who have wondered if the Ebola virus in West Africa is becoming more severe. In fact, the new study suggests the current virus has a decreased ability to cause disease in their animal model compared to the 1976 strain.

Using cynomolgus macaques to model infection and disease in humans, scientists from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) infected three animals with 1976 EBOV-Mayinga and three with 2014 EBOV-Makona. While both groups of animals were shedding virus three days after being infected, those in the Mayinga group developed a rash on day four and became extremely ill at days five and six. Those in the Makona group did not develop a rash until six days after infection, and severe disease appeared on days seven and eight. Further, liver damage—typical in Ebola disease—was delayed by about two days in the Makona group compared to the Mayinga group.

Of note, the scientists reported that the immune system of animals in the Makona group produced about three times the amount of a virus-fighting protein, interferon gamma, compared to the Mayinga group. They plan more studies of the immune response, but believe that at least seven days are needed after Ebola infection to mount an effective response. This response does not seem to develop during EBOV-Mayinga infection in cynomolgus macaques because disease progression is too fast.

ARTICLE:
A Marzi et al. Delayed disease progression in cynomolgus macaques infected with Ebola virus Makona strain. Emerging Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.3201/eid2110.150259 (2015).
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Old 06-10-2015, 04:24 PM   #2
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Wow - this has serious & positive implications. This study has to be repeated. I get the reluctance to do large scale studies, but a ton of studies with small numbers of monkeys works too.

If the Makona strain remains a player in West Africa, simmering in the jungle & bursting out periodically, the characteristics displayed in the study gives us something no amount of money in the world can buy - extra time.

Time to get an initial rapid deployment underway, time to initiate treatment, etc.

OTOH... if patients take a few days longer to become symptomatic, that's a few extra days the virus has in which to spread.

So on the surface... mixed bag of potentials.

The one good thing is that it certainly does seem to have a lower fatality rate.
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Old 06-10-2015, 04:41 PM   #3
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It is a mixed bag. One thing that struck me is that the Makona strain would require supportive care for a longer period of time which translates into additional money, supplies, staff and so forth.

I'm going to do a little looking around to see if there's any further discussion about this study floating around.
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