Ebola drugs found to increase survival rates

DRC Religious Leaders Working with Government to Fight Ebola video player. 
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The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who cosponsored the trial said the results are "very good news" for the fight against Ebola.

The test of the drugs started in November as a part of the emergency response to the outbreak in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

Two of four experimental treatments being tested in the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak will now be offered to all patients after showing promise in saving lives, scientists and health officials announced Monday. On the other hand, approximately 53% of the patients on Remdesivir and almost 49% of the patients on ZMapp died.

Of the patients given the two more effective drugs, 29% on REGN-EB3 and 34% on mAb114 died, NIAID said.

But Ilunga resigned from his post last month and has since been replaced by Jean-Jacques Muyembe - director of Congo's National Institute of Biomedical Research - who is thought to be more receptive to the Janssen vaccine.

The randomized, multicenter, controlled trial was created to evaluate the safety and efficacy of 3 antibody-based investigational agents for the treatment of Ebola: REGN-EB3, ZMapp, and mAb114, and 1 small molecule antiviral remdesivir.

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

Almost 2,000 people in the Congo have died of Ebola in the past year. In particular, militia group violence and suspicion towards foreign medical assistance have hindered efforts.

The current outbreak in the DRC is the worst on record after an epidemic that struck mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.

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The epidemic has been declared a public health emergency of global concern by the World Health Organization.

"The success is clear, but there is also a tragedy linked to this success, and the tragedy is that not enough people are being treated", said Michael J. Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.

"The news today is fantastic. The world needs an Ebola vaccine, especially one that can give a strong and longer-lasting immunity", Pontiano Kaleebu, a Ugandan researcher leading the trial, told The New Humanitarian.

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

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 study aims to enrol a total of 725.

The agency said of the patients who were brought into treatment centres with low levels of virus detected in their blood, 94% who got REGN-EB3 and 89% on mAb114 survived.

The two promising drugs are made from Ebola antibodies - a protein produced by the immune system to defend against infection.

"REGN-EB3 is a 3-antibody cocktail designed with the goal of enhancing efficacy, reducing the development of viral sequences that lead to resistance, and increasing potential utility in future outbreaks as viruses continually evolve", Christos Kyratsous, PhD, vice president of research, infectious diseases and viral vector technologies at Regeneron, said in a press release.

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