Two Ebola drugs have proven so effective in a clinical trial that researchers will make the treatments available to anyone infected with the virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where Ebola has killed nearly 1,900 people over the past year.
Amid unrelenting chaos and violence, scientists and doctors in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been running a clinical trial of new drugs to try to combat a year-long Ebola outbreak. On Monday, the trial's cosponsors at the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health announced that two of the experimental treatments appear to dramatically boost survival rates.
While an experimental vaccine previously had been shown to shield people from catching Ebola, the news marks a first for people who already have been infected. From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable, said Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director general of the Institute National de Recherche Biomedical in the DRC, which has overseen the trial's operations on the ground.
An even better solution, some have posited, would be to mine the serum of Ebola survivors and harvest the DNA from the white blood cells that make antibodies. That would yield a set of genetic instructions for making antibodies with a proven track record against the Ebola virus. That's what the NIH's mAb114 is�an antibody isolated from the blood of a survivor of a 1995 outbreak in Kikwit, DRC. Scientists discovered it a few years ago�they had been circulating in his body for more than a decade.
With the WHO's announcement a new trial will now kick off, directly comparing Regeneron to mAb114, which is being produced by a Florida-based company called Ridgeback Bio therapeutics. And all Ebola treatment units in the
outbreak zone will now only administer the two most effective monoclonal antibody drugs, according to the WHO's director of health emergencies, Mike Ryan.
Today's news puts us one more step to saving more lives, said Ryan. The success is clear. But there's also a tragedy linked to the success. The tragedy is that not enough people are being treated. We are still seeing too many people staying away from treatment centers, people not being found in time to benefit from these therapies.
Since the ongoing outbreak began last August in DRC's North Kivu province, more than 2,800 people have become infected, with 1,794 confirmed deaths. It is the second-largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded. On July 17, the WHO declared it a public health emergency of international concern, after a case showed up in Goma, a large city bordering Rwanda. The risk of transmission across international borders remains high.
Source: Somali National News Agency