About This Project

The Ebola outbreak in west Africa has been declared a global emergency by the WHO with over 1,000 victims and no approved therapies. OncoSynergy is developing a readily manufactured experimental cancer drug, OS2966, which coincidentally targets the receptor hijacked by ebola to infect cells. This project aims to demonstrate that OS2966 inhibits ebola infection of human cells thus providing the impetus for expediting OS2966 for treatment of ebola.

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What is the context of this research?


  • Virologists have identified the cell adhesion molecule CD29 as a critical receptor for ebola entry into cells leading to infection.
  • In adults, CD29 is highly expressed in all blood vessels and the liver consistent with the hemorrhagic nature of ebola infection.
  • Our experimental cancer drug, OS2966, blocks CD29.
  • Thus, OS2966 may be useful for ebola treatment.

  • OS2966 is a monoclonal antibody under development for solid malignancies such as brain, ovarian, and breast cancers.
  • OS2966 may be effective in therapy resistant cancers (Carbonell et al., 2013) and has been granted Orphan Designation by the FDA in the treatment of glioblastoma.
  • Blocking CD29 with monoclonal antibodies similar to OS2966 has already been shown to inhibit ebola infectivity (Takada et al, 2000).

What is the significance of this project?


  • There are no therapies approved or readily available for ebola. Few prospects exist.
  • Current investigational ebola therapies suffer from manufacturing difficulties and potentially life-threatening patient reactions.
  • Vaccines require lengthy testing in large numbers of subjects and may not help those already infected by ebola.

  • We have on hand several dozen doses of OS2966 for initial clinical testing if warranted.
  • OS2966 has been tested in pilot studies for safety in relevant models.
  • Manufacturing of OS2966 is standard and can be scaled in matter of weeks at any commercial biologics facility.
  • Thus, if OS2966 is effective against ebola infection we could rapidly and widely deploy it in time to address the current crisis (with additional external funding).

What are the goals of the project?

Our primary goal is to provide preliminary "proof of concept" (POC) for treating ebola with OS2966. We will achieve this by testing the hypothesis that OS2966 can inhibit ebola infectivity in cultured human vascular cells.

  • To facilitate these studies we will produce a pseudotyped virus.
  • We will determine the dose-response relationship of OS2966 treatment in this assay.

If successful, we will have excellent impetus to pursue further testing of OS2966 for the treatment of ebola.


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UPDATE 9/8: After internal discussions, OncoSynergy has decided to match 100% of any donations to expedite these experiments. In addition, any excess funds raised through this platform will be donated to the Wellbody Alliance to support the emergency ebola response on the ground in Sierra Leone.

OncoSynergy is an biopharmaceutical spinout from UCSF with a vision of radically improving outcomes for cancer patients. Our lead experimental cancer drug, OS2966, blocks the very receptor used by the ebola virus to infect cells. Thus, we aim to test the hypothesis that OS2966 can block infectivity of ebola in cultured human cells.

Unfortunately, as a cancer-focused early-stage startup, we do not currently have the resources to support an additional program that is outside of our central mission. Therefore, this promising study cannot happen without external funding.

100% of the funds will go directly towards the costs of the experiments and eventual publication in an open access journal (e.g., PLOS ONE). The time of our research team to administer and supervise this work and sufficient OS2966 to complete these studies will be provided by OncoSynergy at no cost to this project.

The faster we raise the funds needed for these critical studies, the sooner we can potentially make an impact in the current ebola crisis.

Meet the Team

Dr. Shawn Carbonell
Dr. Shawn Carbonell
Dr. Elizabeth Iorns
Dr. Elizabeth Iorns
Co-Founder & CEO at Science Exchange


Postdoctoral Associate, Cancer Biology; University of Miami
Ph.D., Cancer Biology; The Institute of Cancer Research, University of London
B.Sc (Hons), Biomedical Science; University of Auckland
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Team Bio

This project will be lead by Dr. Carbonell in close collaboration with Dr. Iorns and Science Exchange.

DR. SHAWN CARBONELL left his neurosurgical training in 2009 in order to focus all his efforts on significantly improving patient outcomes in oncology. He was a Dean’s Merit Scholar of the University of Virginia NIH Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD), a Kurti Junior Fellow at the University of Oxford, Neurosurgery Resident at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Postdoctoral Scholar at UCSF. Publications.

DR. ELIZABETH IORNS is the co-founder and CEO of Science Exchange, the online marketplace for science experiments and Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami. Dr. Iorns is a breast cancer biologist with a PhD in Cancer Biology from the Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK). Her research has focused on understanding the causes of breast cancer development and metastasis with a focus on ideas that can applied to benefit breast cancer patients. Publications.

Dr. Shawn Carbonell

I am the Founder, President, & CEO of OncoSynergy a biopharmaceutical spinout of UCSF based in San Francisco.

I am a brain surgery dropout... I left clinical neurosurgery training in order to start OncoSynergy so that I could focus all of my efforts into advancing medicine and improving outcomes for cancer patients.

Shockingly, neuroscience was not an available major at the University of Washington in the early 90s so I received my BS in Psychology instead. I then pursued the dual MD/PhD at the University of Virginia through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) where I was Dean's Merit Scholar. I received my PhD in Neuroscience and, still hungry for more, deferred neurosurgery residency for 3 years to study brain tumors at Oxford University as a Nicolas Kurti Junior Fellow. After a brief stint as a neurosurgery resident at the "hospital to the stars" (Cedars-Sinai) I moved to San Francisco in 2010 to pursue my vision for OncoSynergy. To pay the bills in the meantime, I was also a Postdoctoral Scholar at UCSF in the Brain Tumor Research Center.

I am interested in cancer biology with a particular focus on tumors of the CNS such as glioblastoma for which my company has been granted Orphan Drug Designation by the FDA.

Dr. Elizabeth Iorns

I am currently the co-founder and CEO of Science Exchange, the online marketplace for science experiments.

I am also Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami. I am a breast cancer biologist with a PhD in Cancer Biology from the Institute of Cancer Research (London, UK).

My research has focused on understanding the causes of breast cancer development and metastasis with a focus on ideas that can applied to benefit breast cancer patients.

My publications are available at pubmed

Additional Information

OncoSynergy laboratory in San Francisco (photo: WS Carbonell)

Project Backers

  • 47Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $5,031Total Donations
  • $107.06Average Donation
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