Firm Developed Ebola Drug with DoD Funding

Firm Developed Ebola Drug with DoD Funding

A closely held Kentucky firm developed the experimental drug to combat the deadly Ebola virus with funding from the U.S. Defense Department.

Kentucky BioProcessing, based in Owensboro, in recent years received millions of dollars from the Pentagon to develop the drug cocktail that may have saved the lives of two American missionaries who contracted the deadly disease in West Africa.

The company in 2010 received a one-year, $18 million contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop “a proof-of-concept platform capable of yielding a purified vaccine candidate using a whole plant-based process,” according to an announcement detailing the agreement.

The highly experimental research involves making a drug cocktail of three antibodies from “specially modified tobacco plants, which are harvested, ground up into a green liquid, purified and turned into tiny doses — perhaps half a gram or a gram,” according to an article on Tuesday by Lenny Bernstein and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post.

Kentucky BioProcessing is the only entity approved by the U.S. government to make the antibodies, though the actual serum given to the American missionaries Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol is called ZMapp and was produced in collaboration with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, based in San Diego.

That firm has a three-year, $10 million contract from the Defense Advanced Threat Reduction Agency, the newspaper reported.

It’s unclear how much time or money it would take to develop enough of the medication to help control the worst-ever Ebola outbreak. The article quoted a professor who said 10,000 doses could be produced in a month.

Barry Bratcher, chief operating officer of Kentucky BioProcessing, has said the plant-based system is an advanced method of manufacturing that results in lower costs and minimal production time.

“Our facility can produce these proteins in two weeks at a substantial reduction in cost to other production methods,” he told the Army in a press release last year.

Several other promising vaccines and treatments for Ebola are in various stages of development after three decades of work by researchers, according to The Washington Post.

One of the world’s most virulent diseases, Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and issues of infected animals or people. Since the outbreak began earlier this year, the virus has infected more than 1,600 people, killing almost 900 of them, in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

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They’re probably using the tobacco mosiac virus as a vehicle for ebola virus antigens. Expose to tobacco plant, then viral +ssRNA immediately replicates itself, along with whatever Ebola antigen is encoded for. Lyse the tobacco plant and purify desired products. Attach a Histidine tag for Nickel column affinity purification.

Guessing the “old fashioned way” was too lethal: injecting animals with small doses of the antigen and collecting the antibodies from the animal.

Well when you say it like that…

There’s also reduced risk of screwing up and giving people Ebola when you produce Ebola antigens in a different system, which can happen with inactivated virus that is insufficiently inactivated (which the CDC learned to its woe when working with anthrax strains). And there’s attenuated strains which are weakened mutants that the body can use to learn how to fight, but also have similar risks. Bear in mind the tribulations of the polio vaccine (in the inactivated and attenuated forms).

There is an interesting paper on monoclonal antibody production in plants (http://​www​.ncbi​.nlm​.nih​.gov/​p​u​b​m​e​d​/​2​0​6​7​3​747) using TMV to encode a vector. Going straight to mAb is far more effective than a vaccine based on /antigens/. Antibody binding to Ebola epitopes would provoke an immediate immune response, without waiting for the body to learn how to produce antibodies to start fighting.

Is it because the troops BO sent to Africa caught Ebola and DoD needed to develope a vaccine? How many American GIs caught the disease and it’s being kepted secret.

“People make mistakes.” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Well that’s reassuring, considering the apocalyptic consequences of an Ebola pandemic.

Its EXACTLY the kind of response I’d expect from an administration that kept Frieden as the Director of the CDC after having all his Infectious Agents labs shut down for exposing 80 people to live Anthrax.

Its also the kind of brilliant motto I’d expect from an administration that deploys an Infantry Division to fight a virus.

Congratulations, geniuses, on extending the Ebola pandemic to the United States, by enabling fumbling imbeciles with proven track-records of disastrous irresponsibility.

Its no wonder angry armed veterans are jumping the White House fence to school Obama on his stupid clown shoes. I hope the next one is an Ebola patient from the 101st Airborne.


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