Maryland biotechs team to tackle Ebola, Marburg viruses -- Gazette.Net


Armed with new technology from a Gaithersburg company, Paragon Bioservices of Baltimore is gearing up to produce experimental vaccines for the deadly Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan and Marburg viruses.

MaxCyte has sold to Paragon two transfection systems that are used in the contract manufacturing of recombinant proteins, antibodies, viral vectors, vaccines and virus-like particles.

Paragon is working under a Pentagon contract to develop and manufacture virus-like particle vaccines against these filoviruses for use in preclinical evaluations.

“We are delighted that Paragon values the speed, robustness and scalability of MaxCyte transfection systems,” Douglas Doerfler, CEO of MaxCyte, said in a joint statement.

The Ebola virus comprises five strains, including Zaire and Sudan. It can cause hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent; outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, according to the World Health Organization. It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

There is no available treatment or vaccine for either people or animals.

From 1976 to 2011, the virus killed 1,540 humans in Central and West Africa, according to agency data.

In November, WHO reported 20 probable or confirmed cases of Marburg virus, including nine deaths in Uganda.