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Owensboro Company Using Tobacco to Create Treatment for Ebola Virus

Dave Spencer

The Ebola virus is one of the world’s deadliest. It creates an especially aggressive form of hemorrhagic fever which, in the worst cases, will send a patient into shock before death, after bleeding internally and externally.

But an Owensboro company may have an answer.

Kentucky BioProcessing extracts a substance from genetically engineered tobacco plants to make what’s called a “humanized” version of Ebola antibodies. These antibodies are combined to make a treatment cocktail called MB-003.

Monkeys, which can be infected with the Ebola virus just like humans, were tested with MB-003 at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). They were treated with MB-003 for five days following the infection’s onset. In 43% of the tests, the monkeys survived.

The Owensboro facility can produce MB-003 quickly and cheaply so that needs may be met more expeditiously, according to Kentucky BioProcessing COO Barry Bratcher.

The World Health Organization has kept track of outbreaks of Ebola–which first appeared in 1976–including separate recent ones in the Congo.


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