Several experimental treatments for Ebola are currently available and although none have been officially tested and approved several promising results have been observed.
By Chandres (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
An experimental anti-viral drug that has shown some initial potential for the treatment of Ebola. The drug is currently in phase 3 human trials for the treatment of cytomegalovirus, adenovirus, and smallpox. An urgent authorization has been provided by the FDA for testing as a treatment for Ebola. The drug was tested with the first American case of Ebola. The patient died 4 days after receiving the drug.
Traditionally used as a treatment for HIV and Hepatitis B, it acts as a nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor. The drug was tested by Dr. Gobee Logan in Liberia as an off label treatment for Ebola. The doctor claims significant improvement in the survival chance of patients upon receiving the medication. No official experiments have been conducted to confirm the efficacy of treatment and fears have been raised around the potential damage to the liver of a patient.
This drug has been placed on a suspended hold after phase one clinical trials resulted in flu like symptoms among test subjects. The drug is a combination of Small interfering RNAs. Three of the seven proteins present in the Ebola virus are targeted by the drug. Experimental administration of the drug is permitted in patients already infected with Ebola however healthy individuals may not receive the treatment at this time.
ZMapp is notably the best known potential Ebola treatment having been administered to several patients who survived Ebola infection. The drug is in limited supply as it is grown in a genetically modified tobacco plant and cannot be synthesized in a laboratory. In one example of testing 3 Liberians received the drug with two surviving. Supply of the medication is currently exhausted according to the manufacturer however several governments around the world have limited supplies of the drug. ZMapp contains neutralizing antibodies that allegedly provide passive immunity to the Ebola Virus.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who was the first patient diagnosed with Ebola on US soil, has died.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held a Press Conference on the 30th of September 2014 where they confirmed the man, who had come Liberia, had tested positive for Ebola. Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC cited the patient’s travel history: Duncan left Liberia on the 19th of September 2014 and arrived in the USA on the 20th. He had no symptoms on the plane and only started showing symptoms around the 24th of September. Duncan sought care on the 26th and was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on the 28th.
Questions arose about why the patient had been sent home. These were answered in a Press Conference by Texas Officials the next day. Dr. Mark Lester responded that the information between the nurse and other medical practitioners had not been properly communicated. Because of this the team had not factored in all information and suspected the patient of having a “low-grade” infection. This was later suggested to be incorrect according to various media reports, and it was later confirmed that full history was known by more people than had previously been suggested. Many also wondered why the patient was able to leave Liberia. It emerged that Duncan had omitted information upon leaving the country. The Government of Liberia said he would be prosecuted.
Duncan was allegedly receiving the the experimental drug Brincidofovir and was placed on a ventilator when his condition deteriorated. He was also receiving dialysis. This week the first case of transmission to occur outside of West Africa was confirmed by the European Union member state Spain.
The United States is still monitoring the roughly 100 contacts related to Duncan.
Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who was the first case of Ebola diagnosed on American soil is reportedly receiving the experimental drug, Brincidofovir. The drug is being developed by Chimerix and shows activity against herpes simplex viruses, adenoviruses and has shown some results against Ebola in preliminary trials. The World Health Organisation a while ago cleared the way for experimental drugs to be used against Ebola given the seriousness of the virus. The use of the drug is welcomed in light of the criticism that surfaced related to the handling of his case by the CDC and Texas Health Officials.
Meanwhile, a Spanish nurse has contracted the virus from a patient who was flown to Madrid to receive treatment. Norway is also in the process of repatriating a citizen who was working for Doctors without Borders but assured the public that all necessary protocols will be taken. The public has been urged to remain calm by many governments around the world concerned that unnecessary fear-mongering could lead to unrest. Many airlines around the world have already cut the amount of flights they offer to the affected countries and governments are concerned that calls to close borders could become louder and mainstream.
The experimental drug offers a ray of light since ZMapp supplies became limited. Currently there is no vaccine available but GlaxoKlineSmith in partnership with the NIAID, and Newlink in partnership with the Department of Defense are the two front-runners in the research race. Duncan’s infection led to a spate of contacts and numerous people have been placed in isolation since. The European Health Care System will now be placed under the same scrutiny as that of the US since the initial results confirmed the Nurse’s infection. The Spanish Health Ministry is expected to hold a Press Conference later today.