Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Medical | By

Health officials say Ebola cure near with 2 new Congo treatments

Health officials say Ebola cure near with 2 new Congo treatments

This is the 10th outbreak of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the most severe in the country since 1976, when scientists identified the deadly virus near the Ebola River.

"The more we learn about these two treatments, and how they can complement the public health response, including contact tracing and vaccination, the closer we can get to turning Ebola from a terrifying disease to one that is preventable and treatable".

REGN-EB3 is made by American biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and mAb114 was developed by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which licensed production previous year to American biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics. The treatment is a pre-existing combination of antibodies that are proven to be helpful at treating Ebola in the earlier outbreak.

Ebola has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018 in an outbreak that has now killed at least 1,800 people. "We look forward to reviewing the trial data and are working with governments and other collaborators, including BARDA (Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority), to make REGN-EB3 available for the current outbreak and future use".

Now a trial of new therapies has saved roughly 90 per cent of the patients who received them early in the course of infection.

In comparison, two-thirds of the patients who got Remdesivir and almost three-quarters on ZMapp survived.

The drugs work by attacking the Ebola virus with antibodies, neutralising its impact on human cells.

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).

The Pamoja Tulinde Maisha (PALM [together save lives]) study is a randomized, controlled trial of four investigational agents (ZMapp, remdesivir, mAb114 and REGN-EB3) for the treatment of patients with Ebola virus disease.

World Health Organization said the average EVD case fatality rate is some 50%. Their death rates came to only 6% with REGN-EB3, 11% with mAB114, 24% on ZMapp and 33% with Remdesivir.

He said medical professionals on the ground in Congo have sufficient stores of both drugs to administer them to all infected people. "You can get ethically sound and scientifically sound information rapidly", he said.

The drugs will now be used to treat all patients with the disease in DR Congo, according to health officials.

Mike Ryan, head of the WHO's emergencies programme, said the trial's positive findings were encouraging but would not be enough on their own to bring the epidemic to an end.

More than 1,300 people have been vaccinated in the city of Goma, close to the border with Rwanda, and since the beginning of August, there have been no reports of new cases confirmed.

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