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Ebola Drug Passes Early Test



After all the bad news that have been going round over the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West African countries, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, a piece of good news finally arrived some moments ago.
Reporting online in the British journal Nature, researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that a prototype drug, ZMapp, that has been urgently given to a handful of patients with Ebola has cleared an important test hurdle.
According to the scientists report, the drug test results showed that ZMapp cured lab monkeys that have been infected with the Ebola virus disease.
It was gathered that it is a norm to experiment drugs on animals first and then on progressively larger groups of humans to ensure they are safe and effective.
But, in an exceptional move, ZMapp that has not gone through these tests has been rushed to the outbreak in West Africa, as the lethal disease has no cure.

According to the Canadian researchers, 18 rhesus macaque monkeys given high doses of Ebola virus fully recovered after being given ZMapp, even when it was administered five days after infection.
The scientists informed that the drug reversed dangerous symptoms such as bleeding, rashes and high levels of enzymes in the liver.
They also stated that three “control” monkeys that had been infected, but not treated, all died within eight days.
It was gathered that 21 animals had been given the so-called Kikwit strain of Ebola, named after a location in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country where the hemorrhagic fever was discovered in 1976.
But lab-dish tests indicate it can also inhibit the strain in Guinea which has sparked the current epidemic, the scientists said.
Meanwhile, independent experts have started hailing the results as an encouraging first step in the long vetting process.
They added, though, that it was still unclear whether ZMapp worked on humans, as two patients who have been given it have died and two others have recovered.
“Widespread availability and use of ZMapp will require human safety testing and licensing, coupled with scaleup of the manufacturing process,” cautioned David Evans, a professor of virology at Britain’s University of Warwick.
ZMapp is being developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. of San Diego, California, partly in conjunction with the US Army.
ZMapp has so far been given to seven infected frontline workers.
Of these, two American doctors have recovered; a Liberian doctor and a Spanish priest have died; and a doctor and a nurse, both Liberian, and a British nurse, who has been flown to London from Sierra Leone, are still in treatment.
The World Health Organisation, W.H.O, gave the green light on August 12, saying it was ethical to use experimental drugs in the context of this dangerous epidemic.
Stocks of ZMapp, which is derived from tobacco leaves and is hard to produce on a large scale, are exhausted, the company said on August 12.
Investigation revealed that the other main experimental drug for the disease is TKM-Ebola, being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. of Vancouver, Canada, under a $140-million (105-million-euro) contract with the Pentagon.
It is currently in a Phase I human trial, the first step in the three-phase test process. In this phase, a drug is evaluated on healthy non-infected humans to see whether it is safe. Further phases test it for safety and also effectiveness.
According to the W.H.O, about 1,500 people have died in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone since the disease emerged in West Africa early 2014.
Six people have died in Nigeria alone since the dreaded disease was brought to the country by a Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer on 20 July, 2014. He later died from the disease on 25 July.

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