Ebola cure confirmed in monkeys

Posted Aug 29, 2014 by Robert Weller
Scientists have confirmed that the new Ebola cure used to save two American doctors is 100 percent effective in monkeys.
Ebola spreads to Senegal
Ebola spreads to Senegal
I. Vericourt / A., Bommenel, AFP
The researchers published their work in Nature. It could hardly have come at a better time as the death toll in West Africa for this outbreak of the disease has exceeded 1550.
Researchers called it “a monumental achievement.”
"It's fantastic news," says study co-author Gary Kobinger of the Public Health Agency of Canada. "This strongly supports" the hope that ZMapp will work in humans, he says.
If it is confirmed the next major issue will be to produce enough of it because only small amounts are available.
Then the World Health Organization will have to find a way to get it into densely populated as well as remote areas of Africa
At least five doctors involved in the research died.
The disease first appeared in West Africa near the Ebola River in 1976. At times the fatality rate was above 80 percent, but better and faster treatment has lowered to about 50 percent.
Because of the recent outbreak researchers were forced to offer the serum to some medical doctors who appeared likely to die without it. Two recovered when transported to Atlanta, though it remains unproven whether Zmapp saved them.
Like many drugs today, including those that prolong the lives of those with AIDS, Zmap is a cocktail of three antibodies.
Trials on 18 rhesus macaques cured them.
Also to be determined is whether the drug can save those in whom the disease has advanced to its latest stages.
Kobinger said some monkeys who had been infected for five days survived.
But Kobinger said: "We know there is a point of no return where there is too much damage to major organs, so there's a limit."
It is believed that two patients who had been given the drug died, but they were in the later stages.
It is hoped clinical trials can begin immediately.
Next week 20 healthy adults will be injected with a single protein of the Ebola virus to help make an experimental vaccine. The tests will be conducted at a clinical center in Maryland, the National Institutes of Health announced.