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Shocking Facts from a Study: Even After Years, the Ebola Virus Hides in the Brain

In a rhesus monkey that sustained Ebola virus exposure and was treated with monoclonal antibodies, the Ebola virus relapsed within the ventricular brain system and neighbouring neuropil.

About Ebola

The Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a deadly disease that impacts humans and nonhuman creatures alike. Direct, immediate contact with an infectious bat or nonhuman monkey or a sick or deceased person who has the Ebola virus could cause EVD.

The study

In such a groundbreaking study, scientists showed how the Ebola virus, which might survive in some parts of the body, could re-emerge and cause lethal disease even post-therapy with monoclonal antibodies.

Their study, which used a nonhuman primate form of Ebola virus infection, was featured in the journal ‘Science Translational Medicine.’ According to the paper’s senior author, Xiankun (Kevin) Zeng, PhD, certain recent Ebola virus illness outbreaks within Africa have been associated with chronic infection in individuals who had sustained earlier epidemics.

The disease outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea within 2021, particularly, re-emerged from a consistently infected victim of the earlier major outbreak, which occurred at least 5 years prior. The specific “hiding place” of chronic Ebola virus as well as the biology of eventual recrudescent, or reoccurring, disease in survivors—particularly those cured with monoclonal antibody therapeutics standard-of-care —were, though, completely unknown.

To answer these issues, Zeng and his colleagues at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases employed a nonhuman monkey model, which is the one that even most closely mimics Ebola virus sickness in people.

Zeng explained. “We found that about 20 percent of monkeys that survived lethal Ebola virus exposure after treatment with monoclonal antibody therapeutics still had persistent Ebola virus infection–specifically in the ventricular brain system, in which cerebrospinal fluid is produced, circulated, and contained–even when Ebola virus was cleared from all other organs.”

He said that it was fortunate that these monoclonal antibodies and approved vaccines are good to comprise the outbreak.

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