Ebola patients in Congo 'cured' with drugs

Kenny Tucker
August 14, 2019

Two of the four medicines tested will now be administered to Ebola patients in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), health officials have said.

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 - and those products will be now dropped, said Anthony Fauci, one of the researchers co-leading the trial.

Researchers have stopped an experimental drug trial looking into potential treatments for Ebola on the grounds that it has been so successful. The new therapies saved about 90 percent of the patients who were newly infected, a breakthrough discovery in the decades-long fight against Ebola.

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola outbreak in the DRC a public health emergency of worldwide concern.

"This is great news of course, and this news will save lives and move us closer to finding an effective treatment for Ebola", he said.

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 global research consortium coordinated by the World Health Organization; and supported by four pharmaceutical companies (MappBio, Gilead, Regeneron, and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics).

Theirs are among more than 2,800 confirmed cases of the disease that has claimed almost 1,900 lives since the outbreak began a year ago in the eastern DRC. "You can get ethically sound and scientifically sound information rapidly", Fauci said.

Two out of the four drugs, REGN-EB3 and mAb114, were effective on the patients.

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The two were among a group of four diagnosed in Goma, the largest city affected by the outbreak that has so far killed at least 1,800 people.

The treatments were developed using antibodies harvested from people who survived an Ebola infection.

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

The research was created to test the effectiveness of the drugs on as many as 725 people infected with the Ebola virus in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

Ebola is a virus that is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids of someone who is ill with the virus or died from it, or through blood, body fluids or tissues of infected fruit bats or primates, the CDC states.

They produce antibodies that cling to the Ebola virus and destroy it.

The treatments, known as REGN-EB3 and an antibody called mAb114, were being tried out in patients with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with antiviral drugs ZMapp and Remdesivir.

Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the director-general of the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) says he hopes it encourages people to bring in sick loved ones for treatment earlier rather than later, reports Nature.

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