As the Ebola outbreak continues to wreak havoc in West Africa, the need for vaccines to combat the disease is growing. However, there's a silver lining in the form of an experimental drug, which could well be the answer to curing those infected by Ebola.
The Experimental drug is known as ZMapp and has been developed by San Diego-based biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. However, in the past ZMapp has only been tested on monkeys in experiments and not been tried on human beings. It has been effective on primates if used within 48 hours of being infected.
Based on reports, ZMapp, however, may have saved the lives of two American aid workers - Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly - who were diagnosed with the disease.
Both the patients were aware of the risk involved in taking the serum, which was transported in subzero temperatures and needs to be thawed before being administered. The monoclonal antibody works by stopping the Ebola virus from entering and infecting new cells in the body.
33-year old Brantly's condition showed a dramatic improvement, which doctors describe as "miraculous." The rash on his upper body began to fade and his breathing showed improvements. He was also able to shower on his own the next day and walk off the ambulance.
59-year old Nancy Writebol too is showing signs of improvement and is slated to land in Atlanta on Tuesday, Aug. 5 around noon.
"Brantly's and Nancy Writebol's conditions significantly improved after receiving the medication, sources say. Brantly was able to walk into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being evacuated to the United States last week, and Writebol is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday," notes CNN.
A statement on the report is being prepared by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the institute, had revealed that an experimental drug was in development and would possibly become available for mainstream use by early 2015.
Whether ZMapp can be administered to other Ebola patients is not known yet. Per WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl doctors "cannot start using untested drugs in the middle of an outbreak, for various reasons."
Moreover, per Dr. Fauci, scientists have to caution against presumptions whether the antibody will be as effective on other patients suffering from Ebola as well.