Medicine

Scientists hail promise of first effective Ebola treatments

Scientists hail promise of first effective Ebola treatments

More than 1,800 people have died in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since Ebola broke out there in August previous year.

The drugs improved survival rates from the disease more than two other treatments being tested - ZMapp, made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical, and Remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID and one of the researchers leading the trial, said the results were "very good news" in the fight against Ebola. The treatment is a pre-existing combination of antibodies that are proven to be helpful at treating Ebola in the earlier outbreak.

Their trial began on November 20, 2018 in the DR Congo as part of the emergency response to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces.

Trials like "Together Save Lives" have been introduced in areas like the Congo during outbreaks to test what treatments may be most effective for infected patients.

"Now that 90% of their patients can go into the treatment center and come out completely cured, they will start believing it and building trust in the population and community", he said. The other two treatments, ZMapp and remdesivir, will no longer be used.

These ETCs have been overseen by staff from the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB); the DRC Ministry of Health; and three medical humanitarian organizations: the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), the International Medical Corps (IMC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

These new treatments are two monoclonal antibodies that block the Ebola virus.

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The Congo treatment trial, which began in November previous year, is being carried out by an global research group coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Across all levels of infection, patients who received REGN-EB3 had a mortality rate of 29 per cent, while those treated with mAb-114 had a mortality rate of 34 per cent, the Post reports.

"This underscores the importance of doing randomised, controlled trials. You can get ethically sound and scientifically sound information rapidly", Fauci said.

A clinical trial evaluating 4 experimental therapeutics for Ebola virus disease has been halted after an independent data and safety monitoring board determined 2 of the therapies were linked with better rates of survival.

A health worker fills a syringe with Ebola vaccine before injecting it to a patient, in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 5, 2019.

The head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus, hailed the results as "welcome news".

"The success is clear, but there is also a tragedy linked to this success, and the tragedy is that not enough people are being treated", said Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.

Hospital staff carry a coffin containing the body of an Italian nun who died from the deadly Ebola virus to the cemetery in Kikwit, Democratic Republic of the Congo, on May 14, 1995.