Scientists hail promise of first effective Ebola treatments in Congo trial

13 August, 2019, 16:52 | Author: Sherman Richardson
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The latest trial demonstrates 'you can dramatically diminish the mortality, ' said Mr Fauci, 'but getting rid of the Ebola virus becomes a case of prevention, of how you could prevent this from spreading.

Scientists are a step closer to finding the first effective treatments for the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever after two potential drugs showed a survival rate of as much as 90% in a clinical trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the USA health authority co-funding the research said Monday.

All Ebola treatment units will now use the two remaining monoclonal antibody drugs to help slash the death rate.

Four drugs were trialled by an global research group co-ordinated by the World Health Organization on patients in the DR Congo, where there is a major outbreak of the virus.

The drug ZMapp along with remdesirir have been dropped after two other drugs were found to be more effective.

The drugs attack the Ebola virus with antibodies and neutralise its impact on human cells.

The PAmoja TuLinde Maisha (PALM [together save lives]) clinical trial was launched on November 20, 2018 as part of the response to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

It was the first-ever multi-drug trial for an Ebola treatment.

The NIAID, part of the NIH, and the Institut National de Recherche Biomedicale in the DRC jointly sponsored the trial.

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Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Researchers administered one of four drugs to the 681 patients who had participated in the study as of Friday.

"The more we learn about these two treatments. the closer we can get to turning Ebola from a terrifying disease to one that is preventable and treatable", he said in a statement. These treatment centers were overseen by staff from the INRB, and three medical humanitarian organizations: the Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), the International Medical Corps (IMC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Fauci explained that the trial was created to include 725 people, but was halted by an independent board when it had enrolled 681 people because at that point, one of the drugs, REGN-EB3 by Regeneron, reached a critical threshold in success, while mAb114 was not far behind. "The preliminary results in 499 study participants indicated that individuals receiving REGN-EB3 or mAb114 had a greater chance of survival compared to participants in the other two arms (remdesivir and ZMapp)".

Consequently, the chief investigators of the study, its statistician and co-sponsors accepted this recommendation, and the Ebola treatment center staff at the sites were promptly informed.

Patients receive them once, intravenously, and "ideally, as soon as possible" after infection, Fauci said.

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.

Tackling Congo's outbreak has been complicated both by conflict in the region and because many people don't believe Ebola is real and choose to stay at home when they're sick, which spurs spread of the virus.

The Government has sustained robust community awareness and mobilisation, vaccination of frontline workers, creating EVD treatment centres, and stepping up surveillance.

He added, "Now you can get the two best antibodies quickly to the people who need them".

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