Scientists hail promise of first effective Ebola treatments

A girl receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse in Goma

In June this year, Tanzanian Minister for Health Ummy Mwalimu warned that Tanzania was at high risk of an outbreak of Ebola after the virus killed at least two people in neighboring Uganda.

ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114 and REGN-EB3 were the four drugs used in the trials.

"From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable", said Prof Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director-general of the Institut National de Recherche Biomedicale. Monday, they said two had worked remarkably well for 500 patients who'd received them.

Ebola is a virus that is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of someone who is ill with the virus or died from it, or through blood, body fluids or tissues of infected fruit bats or primates, the CDC states. These advances will help save thousands of lives.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the US NIAID, said the overall mortality of those given ZMapp in the trial in four centres was 49% while that of Remdesivir was 53%.

WHO is committed to continuing to work closely with the ministries of health of DRC and neighboring countries, and other worldwide partners to ensure the outbreak response remains robust and well-coordinated.

The treatments, known as REGN-EB3 and an antibody called mAb114, were being tried out in patients with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with antiviral drugs ZMapp and Remdesivir.

"The success is clear, but there is also a tragedy linked to this success, and the tragedy is that not enough people are being treated", said Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.

The PAmoja TuLinde Maisha (PALM [together save lives]) clinical trial was launched on November 20, 2018 as part of the response to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

"Today's news has put us another step to saving more number of lives".

Trials on two of them REGN-EB3 and mAB114 have been stopped and doctors are prioritising their use, after they were shown to be 90 percent effective on hundreds of patients. "The world needs an Ebola vaccine, especially one that can give a strong and longer-lasting immunity", Pontiano Kaleebu, a Ugandan researcher leading the trial, told The New Humanitarian. In particular, militia group violence and suspicion towards foreign medical assistance have hindered efforts.

"The more we learn about these two treatments. the closer we can get to turning Ebola from a terrifying disease to one that is preventable and treatable", he added in a statement.

About 681 patients were enrolled in the trial as of August 9, 2019, with a total aim of 725 patients, the NIAID said.

"REGN-EB3 is a 3-antibody cocktail designed with the goal of enhancing efficacy, reducing the development of viral sequences that lead to resistance, and increasing potential utility in future outbreaks as viruses continually evolve", Christos Kyratsous, PhD, vice president of research, infectious diseases and viral vector technologies at Regeneron, said in a press release.

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