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Modeling Challenges of Ebola Virus -Host Dynamics during Infection and Treatment

Daniel S. Chertow, Louis Shekhtman, Yoav Lurie, Richard T. Davey, Theo Heller and Harel Dahari


January 2020



Mathematical modeling of Ebola virus (EBOV)–host dynamics during infection and treatment in vivo is in its infancy due to few studies with frequent viral kinetic data, lack of approved antiviral therapies, and limited insight into the timing of EBOV infection of cells and tissues throughout the body. Current in-host mathematical models simplify EBOV infection by assuming a single homogeneous compartment of infection. In particular, a recent modeling study assumed the liver as the largest solid organ targeted by EBOV infection and predicted that nearly all cells become refractory to infection within seven days of initial infection without antiviral treatment. We compared our observations of EBOV kinetics on multiple anatomic compartments and hepatocellular injury in a critically ill patient with Ebola virus disease (EVD) with this model’s predictions. We also explored the model’s predictions, with and without antiviral therapy, by recapitulating the model using published inputs and assumptions. Our findings highlight the challenges of modeling EBOV–host dynamics and therapeutic efficacy and emphasize the need for iterative interdisciplinary efforts to refine mathematical models that might advance understanding of EVD pathogenesis and treatment.

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