Ebola outbreak: Scientists believe they've found life-saving drug according to study results

A health worker fills a syringe with Ebola vaccine before injecting it to a patient in Goma Democratic Republic of Congo. — Reuters file

A health worker fills a syringe with Ebola vaccine before injecting it to a patient in Goma Democratic Republic of Congo. — Reuters file

One of the drugs was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and the other by NIH researchers - who are now hopeful these drugs are "may able to improve the survival of people with Ebola".

REGN-EB3, mAb114 and Zmapp are monoclonal antibodies that bind to glycoprotein on the Ebola virus and neutralize its ability to infect other cells.

Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said: 'REGN-EB3 and mAb114 are the first drugs that, in a scientifically sound study, have clearly shown a significant diminution in mortality for people with Ebola virus disease'.

Of the patients given the two more effective drugs, 29% on REGN-EB3 and 34% on mAb114 died, NIAID said.

Therefore it can no longer be called an incurable disease. On the other hand, 33% of participants who received remdesivir and 24% of participants who received ZMapp died.

Mr Fauci explained that the trial was created to include 725 people, but was halted when it had enrolled 681 people because at that point, one of the drugs, REGN-EB3 by Regeneron, reached a critical threshold in success, while mAb114 was not far behind.

The current Ebola outbreak is now considered the second largest in history, killing at least 1,800 people. Efforts to control it have been hampered by militia violence, while emergency responders have struggled to win the cooperation of affected communities, many of which are deeply distrustful of the government and a roll-out of medical strategies - supervised by security forces - that have clashed with local customs.

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The Congo treatment trial, which began in November a year ago, is being carried out by an global research group co-ordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A vast Ebola outbreak in West Africa become the world's largest ever when it spread through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2013 to 2016 and killed more than 11,300 people. The treatments won't stop the epidemic because that's done through contract tracing and identifying who has the disease, he said. "It gives us a new tool in our toolbox against Ebola, but it will not in itself stop Ebola", he told reporters.

The agency said 49 per cent of the patients on ZMapp and 53 per cent on Remdesivir died in the study.

"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.

He said: 'Thanks to this trial, we are starting to understand which treatments to offer to patients in this and future outbreaks'.

As of August 9, 2019, the trial had enrolled 681 patients toward an enrollment of 725 individuals from 4 treatment centers in Beni, Katwa, Butembo, and Mangina.

Patients who were receiving the two drugs that are being discontinued, Zmapp and remdesivir, will now have the option at the discretion of their treating physician to receive the treatments that have been shown to work.

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