Treatment of Marburg and Ebola hemorrhagic fevers: a strategy for testing new drugs and vaccines under outbreak conditions

Antiviral Res. 2008 Apr;78(1):150-61. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2008.01.152. Epub 2008 Feb 26.


The filoviruses, Marburg and Ebola, have the dubious distinction of being associated with some of the highest case-fatality rates of any known infectious disease--approaching 90% in many outbreaks. In recent years, laboratory research on the filoviruses has produced treatments and vaccines that are effective in laboratory animals and that could potentially drastically reduce case-fatality rates and curtail outbreaks in humans. However, there are significant challenges in clinical testing of these products and eventual delivery to populations in need. Most cases of filovirus infection are recognized only in the setting of large outbreaks, often in the most remote and resource-poor areas of sub-Saharan Africa, with little infrastructure and few personnel experienced in clinical research. Significant political, legal, and socio-cultural barriers also exist. Here, we review the present research priorities and environment for field study of the filovirus hemorrhagic fevers and outline a strategy for future prospective clinical research on treatment and vaccine prevention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa, Central / epidemiology
  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomedical Research
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Ebola Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Ebolavirus / drug effects
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / drug therapy*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / virology
  • Humans
  • Marburg Virus Disease / drug therapy*
  • Marburg Virus Disease / epidemiology
  • Marburg Virus Disease / prevention & control*
  • Marburg Virus Disease / virology
  • Marburgvirus / drug effects
  • Viral Vaccines / therapeutic use*


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Ebola Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines