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article imageEbola appears to be curable, following successful drug tests

By Tim Sandle     Aug 14, 2019 in Science
Scientists have raised the possibility that Ebola virus infection is curable. A new study found that over 90 percent of infected people can survive if treated early using one of two newly assessed drugs.
An assessment of two medications indicates that Ebola may soon become a "preventable and treatable" disease, the BBC reports. This follows the successful completion of trials on two drugs. The medications showed significantly improved survival rates. In all, four drugs were tested out on patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), at a treatment centre in Goma, and two were found to be suitable for further review..
Ebola virus disease describes the human disease caused by any of four of five Ebola viruses. The name of this viral grouping derives from Ebola River in Republic of the Congo, close to where the first case of the virus was detected in 1976. One of the common signs of the disease is bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites. While the disease spreads from person-to-person contact, it has a zoonotic origin (primarily from bats). Until recent research into medications, the disease was normally fatal.
The last few years have seen recurrent Ebola outbreaks; and an new outbreak, which began in August 2018, has seen a significant rise of cases in DR Congo, where Ebola has killed over 1,800 people in a twelve-month period.
The drugs were co-developed by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and they are named REGN-EB3 and mAb114. Both drugs function by attacking the Ebola virus with antibodies, which neutralizes the impact of the virus on human cells.
Both medications were developed through interactions with Ebola viruses. The first, mAb114, was produced using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola (a monoclonal antibody based drug); and the second, REGN-EB3, is derived from antibodies generated within mice that were infected with the disease in a laboratory (to form a cocktail of three Ebola antibodies).
The results come from a trial of almost 700 people in Ebola treatment centres, looking into four candidate drugs, which began in November 2018 and which was run by the World Health Organization. The survival rate among patients with low levels of the virus in their blood was 94 percent when they were administered REGN-EB3, and 89 percent when mAb114 was given. However, two other test medications — ZMapp and Remdesivir — were not as successful, recording survival rates below 50 percent; these medications will not be progressed for further study.
While there is further testing to be undertaken, the data demonstrates scientists are edging closer to turning Ebola into a treatable disease, provided that the medication is administered early given that the medication shave been shown to work against low viral loads. This needs to be considered alongside improvements to health protection, health promotion geared around people seeking medical care early, building a co-ordinated health service, and improvements to infrastructure within the DR.
More about Ebola, Virus, hemorrhagic fever, Disease
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