Marburgviruses and Ebolaviruses
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Marburgviruses and Ebolaviruses – History, Fiction, and the Facts. MIT Faculty Dinner Series on Biosecurity September 29, 2005 Jens H. Kuhn. The Media and Public Perception. The Preston- “ Outbreak ” Scenario.

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Marburgviruses and ebolaviruses history fiction and the facts

Marburgviruses and Ebolaviruses – History, Fiction, and the Facts

MIT Faculty Dinner Series on Biosecurity

September 29, 2005

Jens H. Kuhn



The preston outbreak scenario
The Preston-“Outbreak” Scenario

  • An ebolavirus emerges in Africa and is imported into the U.S. by its monkey host or a sick patient

  • The virus is highly contagious, spreads quickly and infects thousands of people en route

  • The infections are characterized by “crashing” patients with liquefying organs; patients die from extensive blood loss

  • The military acquires the virus and builds the “perfect biological weapon”




Pathogenesis
Pathogenesis Treatment



Molecular biology

VP40 Treatment

RNA

VP30

NP

VP24

?

GP1,2

Membrane

L

VP35

Molecular Biology

VP24

L

t

VP35

l

NP

VP30

VP40

GP

P -5‘

3‘-HO

IR

19,104

1

IR

IR

IR

OR

IR



Preston and outbreak revisited

True Treatment

Filoviruses are endemic in Africa and could be imported

False

Primates are filovirus hosts

Filoviruses are very contagious

Filoviruses are very stable entities

Hemorrhages and liquefying organs are typical symptoms

Filoviruses are perfect biological weapons

Preston and “Outbreak“ Revisited



The alibek scenario
The Alibek Scenario Treatment

  • The Soviet KGB acquires marburgviruses covertly by recovering corpses of the 1967 marburgvirus disease outbreak in Germany

  • Military work begins immediately to create powerful bioweapons

  • A laboratory accident provides extremely virulent “strains U and V“

  • At the end of the 1980s, “chimeras“ of these strains and variola virus are created


Soviet filovirus research

2 Treatment

1

Soviet Filovirus Research


Some publications of concern
Some Publications of Concern Treatment

  • Volchkov V. E., et al. (2001) Recovery of Infectious Ebola Virus from Complementary DNA: RNA Editing of the GP Gene and Viral Cytotoxicity. Science 291: 1965-1969

  • Towner J. S., et al. (2005) Generation of eGFP expressing recombinant Zaire ebolavirus for analysis of early pathogenesis events and high-throughput antiviral drug screening. Virology 332: 20-27

  • Vorontsova L. A. (1992) Electron microscopic studies of Marburg virus and pathological changes in animal organs caused by this virus. Dissertation to obtain the degree Candidate of Biological Science. SCRVB "Vector" Russia

  • Zelenkov V. N., et al. (1990) Cultivating Marburg virus on Vero cell monolayers treated with 1-chloromethylsilatran and 1-etoxysilatran. In: Biological activity of compounds containing silicon, germanium, and tin. Abstract collection of the 4th All-Union conference, June 12 - 14, U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk Institute of Organic Chemistry, U.S.S.R., pp 6

  • Frolov V. G. (1994) Study of the factors determining stability and dynamics of thermoinactivation of Marburg virus in freeze-dried media. Development of an "accelerated storage" test for prediction of Marburg virus activity during long-term storage. Dissertation to obtain the degree Candidate of Technological Science. SRCVB "Vector“, Russia


Alibek revisited

True Treatment

Soviet laboratory infection provided opportunity to characterize new filovirus strain

False

KGB acquired filoviruses

All filovirus research was classified

Strains U and V were basis of developed Soviet bioweapons?

Filovirus chimeras were created at the end of the 1980s

Alibek Revisited


Summary
Summary Treatment

  • Overall human filovirus infection case numbers and their properties should make these viruses a low research priority (HIV-1, TB!)

  • Filoviruses are interesting bioweapon candidates for state-sponsored programs because of new possibilities for manipulation developed in the West in recent years

  • However, manipulation of filoviruses demands highly skilled researchers. The development of an efficient filovirus bioweapon still requires overcoming major obstacles such as instability and ineffective transmission