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Dr. Gary Kobinger and Dr. Xiangguo Qiu

Location: Winnipeg, MB

Award: Principal Award

Category: Medical

Year: 2017

Innovation:

ZMapp™

Ebola Virus Disease is a highly infectious and deadly disease, transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or semen, of an infected human or animal.

The largest outbreak occurred from December 2013 to January 2016 when Ebola swept across West Africa, resulting in more than 28,000 cases and more than 11,000 deaths.

Years before the deadly West Africa outbreak, Dr. Xiangguo Qiu and Dr. Gary Kobinger began researching and developing an antivirus while working at the Special Pathogens Program at the National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada.

Thought by many as impossible, their intellectual achievement spanned a decade’s search to find a treatment against the Ebola virus infection. First, they discovered and developed highly specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that targeted and neutralized Ebola within the body. The efficacy of a cocktail of three antibodies was then confirmed in animal models of Ebola disease.

Secondly, they researched the pilot production of ZMapp™ within different systems. ZMapp™ produced in prototype CHO and plants was used directly and successfully for compassionate, emergency use in humans for the first time in 2014.

American medical missionaries, Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were infected with the Ebola virus while in Liberia in July 2014. They were both treated with ZMapp™ and advanced supportive care and fully recovered.

Brantly and Writebol were patients one and two, respectively, of 28 patients with the Ebola virus infection who were treated with ZMapp™ with or without advanced supportive care, on compassionate grounds. Twenty five of the twenty eight patients survived and made a complete recovery from the severe, often fatal disease.

ZMapp™ is now the model driving the recent explosion of monoclonal antibody therapies against many other infectious agents such as HIV, Lassa, and Marburg among others.