Could New Ebola Treatments Bring Hope to Congo?

Could New Ebola Treatments Bring Hope to Congo?

Scientists are a step closer to finding an effective treatment for Ebola after two drugs in a clinical trial are found to significantly boost survival rates.

Muyembe said two new drugs "are now be used to treat Ebola patients because, according to the studies and the results we obtained in the lab, these are the two drugs that are effective".

"A long-running outbreak like this takes a bad toll on the communities affected and it is a sign of just how hard this epidemic has been to control that there have already been enough patients treated to tell us more about the efficacy of these four drugs", he said.

"That's the message", said Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director of Congo's National Institute for Biomedical Research, at a press conference in Goma.

They are the "first drugs that, in a scientifically sound study, have clearly shown a significant diminution in mortality" for Ebola patients, said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID.

Now, four candidate drugs - Zmapp, remdesivir, REGN-EB3 and mAb114 - have been tested in a randomised trial, which began in November a year ago and, as on August 9, had enrolled 681 of the target 725 patients.

The Pamoja Tulinde Maisha study's investigational agents were ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114, and REGN-EB3.

Patients who received treatment early saw mortality rates of just 6% with the Regeneron drug and 11% with the NIH compound to about 24% for ZMapp.

"We won't ever get rid of Ebola but we should be able to stop outbreaks turning into major national and regional epidemics".

"From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable", he said.

'The best way to end the outbreak is with a good vaccine, as well as to do good contact tracing, isolation, and then, ultimately, treatment'. A vaccine is a type of medicine that improves immunity to a particular disease, as a preventative measure.

The new experimental treatments are both cocktails of monoclonal antibodies that are infused intravenously into the blood, the New York Times reported.

Ebola has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018 in an outbreak that has now become the second largest, killing at least 1,800 people. The World Health Organization designated it a "public health emergency of global concern" last month.

To contain the epidemic, doctors in Sierra Leone, Libera, and Guinea have been using biopharmaceutical drugs like ZMapp and Remdesivir.

Most recently, data from the World Health Organization indicated there were 2,781 cases of Ebola in this current outbreak, and 1,886 deaths.

However, attempts to contain the latest outbreak are proving hard. Efforts to control it have been hampered by militia violence and some local resistance to outside help.

The authorities have widely deployed a vaccine made by the U.S. giant Merck - a formula called rVSV-ZEBOV that is unlicensed but has been widely tested for safety - to protect frontline workers.

Ebola causes fever, flu-like pains, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhoea and spreads through close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.

The study is co-sponsored by the DR Congo's Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) and the U.S's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID); carried out by an worldwide research consortium coordinated by the World Health Organization; and supported by four pharmaceutical companies (MappBio, Gilead, Regeneron, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics).

Scientists were a step closer to an effective treatment for Ebola after two drugs in a clinical trial were found to significantly boost survival rates, the USA health authority co-funding the research said Monday. On the other hand, approximately 53% of the patients on Remdesivir and almost 49% of the patients on ZMapp died. In comparison, 29% of the patients on REGN-EB3 and 34% on mAb114 died.

The study is co-sponsored and funded by the INRB and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health; carried out by an worldwide research consortium coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO); and supported by four pharmaceutical companies (MappBio, Gilead, Regeneron, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics).

"This recommendation was based on the fact that an early stopping criterion in the protocol had been met by one of the products, REGN-EB3".

"This gives us a new toolbox in the fight against Ebola, but it doesn't stop Ebola", Ryan added.

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