Scientists in the United States have indicated that they have found what they considered as a treatment for the deadly Ebola virus. Their research produced a drug cocktail called MBP134 that helped monkeys infected with three deadly strains of Ebola recover from the disease. According to reports, the treatment would require a single intravenous injection.
The research was at the University of Texas Medical Branch, part of a public-private partnership that also included Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
TLed by Thomas Geisbert, Ph. D, the discovery is intended to develop drugs that would treat all strains of Ebola.
In an interview with VOA, Dr. Geisbert emphasized the need for a breakthrough treatment that would be effective against all strains of Ebola.
“When an outbreak occurs, really don’t know which one of those three strains, species, we call them, is the cause of that particular episode,” Geisbert said.
He said the treatments currently available have been effective only against the Zaire species, which leaves people infected with the other species unprotected.
“Our goal was to develop a treatment that would work regardless of the particular strain of Ebola that was causing it,” Geisbert said.
“If I have to make a drug that only works against Zaire, and another drug that only works against Sudan and another drug that only works against the Bundibugyo species, that is extremely expensive,” he added.
Geisbert said the treatment would save valuable time in determining which strain of Ebola is circulating in an outbreak. It will save lives because people can be treated immediately, and it will also save money.
Globe Afrique has also learned that there will be no profit for the pharmaceutical companies that produce the drugs as part of the discovery, according to the lead researcher.
“It’s not like you are making up a vaccine for flu where companies [are] going to make a profit. There’s a small global market for Ebola, so it has to be sponsored by the government,” he said.
In addition to the U.S. Army and the Canadian government, the U.S. National Institutes of Health has supported much of this research.
Dr. Geisbert said the work ahead involves tweaking the dose to its lowest possible amount, making it easier to distribute — again to reduce costs — and conducting clinical trials in humans to ensure the treatment is safe and effective.
Dr. Geisbert is confident it will work in humans, although he
cautioned that in science, nothing is specific.
While the research is successful, the treatment may not be ready to assist people with Ebola in the current D.R. Congo outbreak, but the promise is that countries affected by the virus could have the treatment in the future.