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Monkey Trial Supports Ebola Drug

All 18 rhesus monkeys infected with the virus survived after getting the experimental medication, researchers report


"Given the severity of this condition and the fact that there's nothing else available, this is as good as it gets," Dr. Ambreen Khalil, an infectious disease specialist with Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, said of the results from the ZMapp monkey trial. "Our focus should be now on the people who are rapidly dying in Africa. In those patients, ZMapp should be used, based on this study."

ZMapp is a cocktail of three laboratory-produced antibodies, which have been derived from two previous antibody cocktails for Ebola, Kobinger said.

In the study, researchers infected 21 rhesus monkeys with an Ebola strain similar to the one raging through West Africa. Then they administered ZMapp to 18 of the monkeys starting on days three, four or five after infection. The monkeys received three doses of the drug at three-day intervals.

All 18 animals treated with ZMapp survived, regardless of how sick they had become. The three monkeys not treated with ZMapp all died by day eight.

Because the Ebola virus strain used to infect monkeys in this experiment is different to the strain in the current West African outbreak, the researchers also performed lab tests that showed that ZMapp does bind to the new virus strain and would likely be as effective against it, Kobinger said.

ZMapp is the only experimental treatment that has been deployed against Ebola during this outbreak, but others could be on the way.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health and drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline are expected to announce that they are starting the first human trials of a potential Ebola vaccine, NBC News reported Wednesday.

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