Ebola drugs return 90pc survival rate in fresh trial
Ebola may soon be “preventable and treatable” after a trial of two drugs showed significantly improved survival rates, scientists have said.
Four drugs were trialled on patients in the DR Congo, where there is a major outbreak of the virus.
More than 90 per cent of infected people can survive if treated early with the most effective drugs, the research showed. The drugs will now be used to treat all patients with the disease in DR Congo, according to health officials.
On Tuesday, two people cured of Ebola using the experimental drugs were released from a treatment centre in Goma, eastern DR Congo, and reunited with their families.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which co-sponsored the trial, said the results are “very good news” for the fight against Ebola.
The drugs, named REGN-EB3 and mAb114, work by attacking the Ebola virus with antibodies, neutralising its impact on human cells.
They are the “first drugs that, in a scientifically sound study, have clearly shown a significant diminution in mortality” for Ebola patients, said Dr Anthony Fauci of NIAID.
REGN-EB3 and mAb114 were developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola, which has killed more than 1,800 people in DR Congo in the past year.
Two other treatments, called ZMapp and Remdesivir, have been dropped from trials as they were found to be less effective. The trial, conducted by an international research group co-ordinated by World Health Organisation (WHO), began in November last year.
Since then, four experimental drugs have been tested on around 700 patients, with the preliminary results from the first 499 now known.
Of the patients given the two more effective drugs, 29 per cent on REGN-EB3 and 34 per cent on mAb114 died, NIAID said. In contrast, 49 per cent on ZMapp and 53 per cent on Remdesivir died in the study, the agency said.
The survival rate among patients with low levels of the virus was as high as 94per cent when they were given REGN-EB3, and 89 per cent when on mAb114, the agency said.
The findings mean health authorities can “stress to people that more than 90 per cent of people survive” if they are treated early, said Sabue Mulangu, an infectious-disease researcher who worked on the trial. - BBC