Published: Wed, August 14, 2019
Medical | By Mark Scott

Congo Ebola treatment trial narrowed to two drugs showing promise

Congo Ebola treatment trial narrowed to two drugs showing promise

Joining Fauci in announcing these findings were Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, director general of the DRC's medical research institute, and Dr. Michael Ryan, who runs the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme.

"These advances will help save thousands of lives", he added. Now [we have] two drugs which are highly effective and very significantly diminish the mortality of Ebola virus disease. "Today, the drugs are there", he said.

A joint WHO-NIAID-INRB release states that as of last Friday, the trial had enrolled 681 patients toward an enrollment total of 725.

The answer is in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation to start using this second vaccine in DRC, where more than 1,800 people died in 2018.

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.

"We now have seen that there are at least two therapies that are showing a beneficial effect in prolonging the life or decreasing the mortality of Ebola virus disease", said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The results showed that 499 study participants who got the REGN-EB3 or mAb114 had a greater chance of survival compared to those who got the other drugs.

"From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable", he said.

Patients received either an antiviral drug called remdesivir or three drugs relying on monoclonal antibodies, which are large proteins that recognise specific pathogens and attract immune cells to destroy them, according to Wired.

"A long-running outbreak like this takes its bad toll on the affected communities, and it's a sign of just how challenging it has been to control this epidemic that there have been sufficient number of patients treated for telling us more about these four drugs' efficacy", said director of the Wellcome Trust, Dr. Jeremy Farrar.

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. In particular, militia group violence and suspicion towards foreign medical assistance have hindered efforts. Photo taken in 2014 during the largest-ever Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,300 people across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone between 2013 and 2016.

Even though the disease will most likely never be eradicated, now there is a hopeful and positive turn in being able to treat it effectively, and perhaps even prevent it. But preliminary data showed patients treated with the NIH-developed mAb114 or Regeneron's REGN-EB3 were more likely to survive compared to those treated with ZMapp or Gilead's remdesivir, prompting an independent review board to recommend ending the study early. People there have been skeptical of the federal government's intentions and those of Western aid groups that operate or help staff treatment centers.

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