Rabies future or investigational therapies

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Future or Investigational Therapies

Induced Coma Treatment

In 2005, the case of Jeanna Giese, a girl of 15 who survived acute, unvaccinated rabies was reported, indicating the successful treatment of rabies through induction of a coma.[1] This treatment approach was based on the theory that rabies' detrimental effects were caused by temporary dysfunctions of the brain, and that the induction of a coma, by producing a temporary partial stop in brain function, would protect the brain from damage while the body built up an immune response to the virus. After thirty-one days of isolation and seventy-six days of hospitalization, she was released from the hospital, having survived rabies. Later attempts to use the same treatment have failed.

The primary care physician in this case published in the April 2007 issue of Scientific American.[2] He notes that subsequent failures of what he calls the Milwaukee protocol did not use the cocktail of drugs used during the treatment. A point he makes for future research is the relationship of the virus to depletion of biopterin in the brain.


  1. Willoughby RE, Tieves KS, Hoffman GM, Ghanayem NS, Amlie-Lefond CM, Schwabe MJ, Chusid MJ, Rupprecht CE (2005). "Survival after treatment of rabies with induction of coma". N. Engl. J. Med. 352 (24): 2508–14. PMID 15958806.
  2. Rodney E. Willoughby, Jr., "A Cure for Rabies?" Scientific American, V. 256, No. 4, April 2007, p. 95 (online link)