U.S. scientists claim that experimental Ebola drugs have successfully treated monkeys infected with the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
The battle against Ebola is still ongoing in West Africa and no medicines have been approved that can cure the disease in humans. However, scientists claim that a treatment, which is known as TKM-Ebola-Guinea has the ability to kill the Makona strain of the virus, at least in primates for now. The vaccine has not yet been tried on humans.
The experiment involved infecting six monkeys in lab environments with high dose of the Makona virus. Three monkeys were given the treatment and they recovered from the disease and remained healthy after 28 days of the trial. However, the three monkeys that did not receive the treatment died from the virus in just nine days.
Human trials of the drug are expected in the second half of 2015.
Scientists reveal that the drug has been made by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. and it works by blocking the particular genes that prevents replication of the virus.
The latest Ebola outbreak started in early 2014 in West Africa. The disease has killed more than 10,700 people in the western African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the hardest hit Ebola countries.
While some people affected with the disease, especially in the U.S., have received experimental treatment and also recovered, the efficacy of the treatments remains in question against the Makona virus.
Similarly, ZMapp, an Ebola drug made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical cured primates in lab experiments. However, the cured monkey was infected with a different Ebola strain.
"We can't say for certain that an experimental drug that works against one strain will work in another, even if they're almost identical genetically," says Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch, who is also the senior author of the study.
Ebola is still taking the lives of many people in West Africa and it has become a global concern. Many health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are working together with pharmaceutical companies to develop a vaccine that can contain the disease.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.
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