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Ebola: A Cure in Sight?

Medic-ALL (Thursday 07:08:2014):
With Ebola cases on the rise in Africa, health experts continue to work tirelessly to find a possible vaccine or in fact a cure to the deadly virus.

                     Ebola virus under the microscope

What We Know
We know that the Ebola virus is a threadlike filovirus that has five different known types. Ebola is able to make copies of itself in the body using a genetic material called the RNA. Inside the body, it causes hemorrhagic symptoms; spreads through bodily fluids such as blood, waste and semen and attacks white blood cells, stalwarts of the immune system, and the platelets that allow blood to clot causes direct and indirect tissue damage—direct because it attacks cells in the liver and indirect through the body’s inflammatory immune response.

At the moment

The FDA is yet to approve any licensed treatment or vaccine for the Ebola virus. So far hospital treatment is based on giving patients intravenous fluids to stop dehydration and antibiotics to fight infections. Strict medical infection control and rapid burial are regarded as the best means of prevention.

How far or How Close ???
Several experimental treatments for Ebola are being developed, which have shown promising results in monkeys when given up to five days after infection. 

An experimental treatment, called Zmapp, has being used for the two U.S aid workers  with "apparently encouraging" signs in one of them, according to reports. The treatment is a mixture of three monoclonal antibodies against the Ebola virus.

Another experimental drug, developed by the Tekmira Pharmaceuticals in Canada, has been tested on monkeys and in a handful of healthy human volunteers. The drug, TKM-Ebola, is designed to target the strands of the genetic material of the virus (RNA) and similarly a US-based pharmeaceutical company, Sarepta Therapeutics, has developed a similar RNA treatment, this however  has been tested in healthy human volunteers in early safety trials, but has never been tried in a human patient.


There have being reports regarding the use of serum (the part of the blood that contains antibodies) - which has been used in past Ebola outbreaks. Survivors have high levels of antibodies against the virus in their blood. In one outbreak in 1995 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, seven out of eight patients survived after being treated with serum from survivors, according to a NIHR (National Institute of Health and Defence Threat Reduction Agency) Professor. Reports suggest that the US aid workers who developed Ebola may have been given serum before being flown home from Africa.

As the use of experimental treatments continue to raise ethical dilemmas, the World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a panel of medical ethicists to explore the use of experimental treatments, all in a bid to bring an end to this menace of a virus.


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