Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Ebola drugs show ‘90% survival rate’ in breakthrough trial

Ebola drugs show ‘90% survival rate’ in breakthrough trial

Scientists seeking a cure for the EBOLA virus have made a major breakthrough in treating the year-long outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Washington Post reports that the drugs have been tested in a almost nine-month clinical trial and have performed so well that health professionals will now administer them to every patient in Congo.

Started in November 2018, the trial was coordinated by the World Health Organization and co-sponsored by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Two experimental drugs - Regeneron's REGN.O REGN-EB3 and a monoclonal antibody called mAb114 - were both developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola infection.

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.

What were the results of the trial?

World Health Organization - which coordinated an worldwide research consortium for the trial - said it would continue to conduct rigorous research and incorporate findings into the Ebola outbreak response in DRC through "a variety of prevention and control strategies".

The second is a monoclonal antibody named mAB114 made by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, which had a mortality rate of 34%.

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

The decision to drop two of the trial drugs was based on data from nearly 500 patients, he said, which showed that those who got REGN-EB3 or mAb114 "had a greater chance of survival compared to those participants in the other two arms".

"It means we do have now what looks like [two] treatments for a disease which, not too long ago, we really had no therapeutic approach at all", Fauci told reporters during a telephone briefing Monday, stressing that more research needs to be done.

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What impact could the drugs have?

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 findings, Mr. Farrar, stated, indicate scientists are getting closer to turning Ebola right into a "preventable and treatable" disease.

A sense that Ebola is incurable and a lack of trust in medical workers in DR Congo has held back treatment of the virus.

Mr Fauci added that the final analysis of the data, including the patients not yet processed, would occur in late September or early October, after which the complete results would be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed medical literature.

"The best way to end the outbreak is with a good vaccine, as well as to do good contact tracing, isolation, and then, ultimately, treatment". A vaccine is a type of medicine that improves immunity to a particular disease, as a preventative measure.

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

How serious is the DR Congo outbreak?

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.

In July, the WHO declared the Ebola crisis in the country a "public health emergency of global concern".

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