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Concept: Crab-eating Macaque

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Ebola viruses (EBOV) cause often fatal hemorrhagic fever in several species of simian primates including human. While fruit bats are considered natural reservoir, involvement of other species in EBOV transmission is unclear. In 2009, Reston-EBOV was the first EBOV detected in swine with indicated transmission to humans. In-contact transmission of Zaire-EBOV (ZEBOV) between pigs was demonstrated experimentally. Here we show ZEBOV transmission from pigs to cynomolgus macaques without direct contact. Interestingly, transmission between macaques in similar housing conditions was never observed. Piglets inoculated oro-nasally with ZEBOV were transferred to the room housing macaques in an open inaccessible cage system. All macaques became infected. Infectious virus was detected in oro-nasal swabs of piglets, and in blood, swabs, and tissues of macaques. This is the first report of experimental interspecies virus transmission, with the macaques also used as a human surrogate. Our finding may influence prevention and control measures during EBOV outbreaks.

Concepts: Human, Influenza, Mammal, Primate, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Simian, Crab-eating Macaque

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Background In the wake of the recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in several African countries, the World Health Organization prioritized the evaluation of treatment with convalescent plasma derived from patients who have recovered from the disease. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma for the treatment of EVD in Guinea. Methods In this nonrandomized, comparative study, 99 patients of various ages (including pregnant women) with confirmed EVD received two consecutive transfusions of 200 to 250 ml of ABO-compatible convalescent plasma, with each unit of plasma obtained from a separate convalescent donor. The transfusions were initiated on the day of diagnosis or up to 2 days later. The level of neutralizing antibodies against Ebola virus in the plasma was unknown at the time of administration. The control group was 418 patients who had been treated at the same center during the previous 5 months. The primary outcome was the risk of death during the period from 3 to 16 days after diagnosis with adjustments for age and the baseline cycle-threshold value on polymerase-chain-reaction assay; patients who had died before day 3 were excluded. The clinically important difference was defined as an absolute reduction in mortality of 20 percentage points in the convalescent-plasma group as compared with the control group. Results A total of 84 patients who were treated with plasma were included in the primary analysis. At baseline, the convalescent-plasma group had slightly higher cycle-threshold values and a shorter duration of symptoms than did the control group, along with a higher frequency of eye redness and difficulty in swallowing. From day 3 to day 16 after diagnosis, the risk of death was 31% in the convalescent-plasma group and 38% in the control group (risk difference, -7 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -18 to 4). The difference was reduced after adjustment for age and cycle-threshold value (adjusted risk difference, -3 percentage points; 95% CI, -13 to 8). No serious adverse reactions associated with the use of convalescent plasma were observed. Conclusions The transfusion of up to 500 ml of convalescent plasma with unknown levels of neutralizing antibodies in 84 patients with confirmed EVD was not associated with a significant improvement in survival. (Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02342171 .).

Concepts: AIDS, Antibody, Biological warfare, Blood transfusion, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period, Crab-eating Macaque

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Without an approved vaccine or treatment, Ebola outbreak management has been limited to palliative care and barrier methods to prevent transmission. These approaches, however, have yet to end the 2014 outbreak of Ebola after its prolonged presence in West Africa. Here we show that a combination of monoclonal antibodies (ZMapp), optimized from two previous antibody cocktails, is able to rescue 100% of rhesus macaques when treatment is initiated up to 5 days post-challenge. High fever, viraemia and abnormalities in blood count and blood chemistry were evident in many animals before ZMapp intervention. Advanced disease, as indicated by elevated liver enzymes, mucosal haemorrhages and generalized petechia could be reversed, leading to full recovery. ELISA and neutralizing antibody assays indicate that ZMapp is cross-reactive with the Guinean variant of Ebola. ZMapp exceeds the efficacy of any other therapeutics described so far, and results warrant further development of this cocktail for clinical use.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Macaque, Primate, Rhesus Macaque, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Crab-eating Macaque

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In March 2014, the World Health Organization was notified of an outbreak of a communicable disease characterized by fever, severe diarrhea, vomiting, and a high fatality rate in Guinea. Virologic investigation identified Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV) as the causative agent. Full-length genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis showed that EBOV from Guinea forms a separate clade in relationship to the known EBOV strains from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. Epidemiologic investigation linked the laboratory-confirmed cases with the presumed first fatality of the outbreak in December 2013. This study demonstrates the emergence of a new EBOV strain in Guinea.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Microbiology, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ebola, Marburg virus, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period, Crab-eating Macaque

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Background Data from studies in nonhuman primates suggest that the triple monoclonal antibody cocktail ZMapp is a promising immune-based treatment for Ebola virus disease (EVD). Methods Beginning in March 2015, we conducted a randomized, controlled trial of ZMapp plus the current standard of care as compared with the current standard of care alone in patients with EVD that was diagnosed in West Africa by polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) assay. Eligible patients of any age were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either the current standard of care or the current standard of care plus three intravenous infusions of ZMapp (50 mg per kilogram of body weight, administered every third day). Patients were stratified according to baseline PCR cycle-threshold value for the virus (≤22 vs. >22) and country of enrollment. Oral favipiravir was part of the current standard of care in Guinea. The primary end point was mortality at 28 days. Results A total of 72 patients were enrolled at sites in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and the United States. Of the 71 patients who could be evaluated, 21 died, representing an overall case fatality rate of 30%. Death occurred in 13 of 35 patients (37%) who received the current standard of care alone and in 8 of 36 patients (22%) who received the current standard of care plus ZMapp. The observed posterior probability that ZMapp plus the current standard of care was superior to the current standard of care alone was 91.2%, falling short of the prespecified threshold of 97.5%. Frequentist analyses yielded similar results (absolute difference in mortality with ZMapp, -15 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -36 to 7). Baseline viral load was strongly predictive of both mortality and duration of hospitalization in all age groups. Conclusions In this randomized, controlled trial of a putative therapeutic agent for EVD, although the estimated effect of ZMapp appeared to be beneficial, the result did not meet the prespecified statistical threshold for efficacy. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; PREVAIL II ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02363322 .).

Concepts: Microbiology, Prediction interval, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Malaise, Crab-eating Macaque, Sierra Leone, Western Red Colobus

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The ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has highlighted questions regarding stability of the virus and detection of RNA from corpses. We used Ebola virus-infected macaques to model humans who died of Ebola virus disease. Viable virus was isolated <7 days posteuthanasia; viral RNA was detectable for 10 weeks.

Concepts: Death, Biological warfare, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period, Crab-eating Macaque

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Herein we describe production of purified equine IgG obtained from horses immunized with plasmid DNA followed by boosting with Kunjin replicon virus-like particles both encoding a modified Ebola glycoprotein. Administration of the equine IgG over 5 days to cynomolgus macaques infected 24 hours previously with a lethal dose of Ebola virus suppressed viral loads by more than 5 logs and protected animals from mortality. Animals generated their own Ebola glycoprotein-specific IgG responses 9-15 days after infection, with circulating virus undetectable by day 15-17. Such equine IgG may find utility as a post-exposure prophylactic for Ebola infection and provides a low cost, scalable alternative to monoclonal antibodies, with extensive human safety data and WHO-standardized international manufacturing capability available in both high and low income countries.

Concepts: Immune system, Human, Bacteria, Plasmid, Mammal, Primate, Crab-eating Macaque, Western Red Colobus

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Tool use has allowed humans to become one of the most successful species. However, tool-assisted foraging has also pushed many of our prey species to extinction or endangerment, a technology-driven process thought to be uniquely human. Here, we demonstrate that tool-assisted foraging on shellfish by long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand, reduces prey size and prey abundance, with more pronounced effects where the macaque population size is larger. We compared availability, sizes and maturation stages of shellfish between two adjacent islands inhabited by different-sized macaque populations and demonstrate potential effects on the prey reproductive biology. We provide evidence that once technological macaques reach a large enough group size, they enter a feedback loop - driving shellfish prey size down with attendant changes in the tool sizes used by the monkeys. If this pattern continues, prey populations could be reduced to a point where tool-assisted foraging is no longer beneficial to the macaques, which in return may lessen or extinguish the remarkable foraging technology employed by these primates.

Concepts: Human, Biology, Population ecology, Macaque, Primate, Rhesus Macaque, Crab-eating Macaque, Barbary Macaque

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To date there are no approved antiviral drugs for the treatment of Ebola virus disease (EVD). Based on our in vitro evidence of antiviral activity of interferon (IFN)-ß activity against Ebola virus, we conducted a single arm clinical study in Guinea to evaluate the safety and therapeutic efficacy of IFN β-1a treatment for EVD. Nine individuals infected with Ebola virus were treated with IFN β-1a and compared retrospectively with a matched cohort of 21 infected patients receiving standardized supportive care only during the same time period at the same treatment unit. Cognizant of the limitations of having treated only 9 individuals with EVD, the data collected are cautiously considered. When compared to supportive care only, IFN β-1a treatment seemed to facilitate viral clearance from the blood and appeared associated with earlier resolution of disease symptoms. Survival, calculated from the date of consent for those in the trial and date of admission from those in the control cohort, to the date of death, was 19% for those receiving supportive care only, compared to 67% for those receiving supportive care plus IFN β-1a. Given the differences in baseline blood viremia between the control cohort and the IFN-treated cohort, an additional 17 controls were included for a subset analysis, from other treatment units in Guinea, matched with the IFN-treated patients based on age and baseline blood viremia. Subset analyses using this expanded control cohort suggests that patients without IFN β-1a treatment were ~ 1.5-1.9 fold more likely to die than those treated. Viewed altogether the results suggest a rationale for further clinical evaluation of IFN β-1a.

Concepts: Immune system, Microbiology, Virus, Influenza, Hepatitis B, Biological warfare, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Crab-eating Macaque

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The rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP vaccine prevented Ebola virus disease when used at 2 × 107 plaque-forming units (PFU) in a trial in Guinea. This study provides further safety and immunogenicity data.

Concepts: Microbiology, Biological warfare, Ebola, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Incubation period, Crab-eating Macaque