Michelle Barnes went to a bat cave in the Uganda jungle and came home infected with Marburg virus, a cousin of Ebola that causes hemorrhagic fever. Upon treating the disease, researchers at Vanderbilt University and Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. have discovered a monoclonal antibody from Barnes, which could cure monkeys from being infected by Marburg and Ravn viruses.
In coordination and paid for by the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the Health and Human Services Department, scientists are now rushing to recreate the antibody and have it mass-produced. If proven to be successful from human trials, the cure can be used when another outbreak happens like the 2014-2016 Ebola incident that killed 11,000 people and hit 28,000 individuals with the virus.
NBCDFW.com reported Barnes as saying, "If somebody needed to get Marburg virus so you could donate your cells for research, I am glad it was me." She continued to say, "I happen to have really good immunity."
Barnes came home from the trip after the New Year in 2008. At first, Barnes started with just feeling tired until she experienced heavy vomiting and sweating. NBC News reported that when Barnes tested for Marburg and Ebola, the results came out negative.
Some of her organs have started to weaken and eventually, her gall bladder was taken after it had failed. Gradually, Barnes recovered and even learned that a Dutch tourist went to the same cave and died of the virus.
The World Health Organization discovered that the bats carried the virus and killed 80 percent of the tourists infected with it. Barnes got a re-test and found the virus present in her blood. She donated her blood for a research study by the University. The antibody cured four monkeys with Marburg virus and five primates with Ravn.