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Employees of the Public Health Agency of Canada working inside of the National Microbiology Laboratory's Level 4 lab. An experimental treatment used to treat two sick American missionaries saved a batch of monkeys infected with Ebola virus, even days after they got sick, researchers reported on Friday. What works in monkeys doesn’t always work in humans, but it’s a piece of good news for the makers of ZMapp, a cocktail of engineered antibodies meant to boost the body’s defenses against the virus. Gary Kobinger of the Public Health Agency of Canada in Winnipeg and colleagues tested 21 monkeys, first giving them a lethal dose of Ebola, and then treating 18 of them starting as late as five days after infection.
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental therapies to fight the Ebola epidemic now spreading across parts of West Africa. Mapp doesn’t have anywhere near enough ZMapp to give everyone sickened, and public health experts note that the clinics and staff are not available to distribute it even if it were available and could be paid for.
Kentucky BioProcessing, which grows the antibodies used to make ZMapp in a close relative of the tobacco plant, can only produce a few dozen doses a month, Kobinger said. And the strain tested in the monkeys is not the same strain as the one’s that’s spreading in West Africa. And doctors treating patients say they are far more likely to live with good, early supportive care, replacing the fluids and minerals lost to the violent vomiting and diarrhea that marks the disease.


Tobacco plants used to help manufacture an experimental drug grow at the Kentucky BioProcessing facilities in Owensboro, Ky. WHO says health experts will fight the ongoing outbreak by trying to find patients sooner, get them isolated and into treatment, and tracking down people they may have infected before they start showing symptoms.
Two other companies, Canada’s Tekmira and Alabama-based Biocryst Pharmaceuticals, are working on Ebola drugs with funding from the Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency. An employee tends to tobacco plants used to help manufacture an experimental drug at the Kentucky BioProcessing facilities in Owensboro, Kentucky. The small scale introduction of bacteria containing engineered DNA into the leaf of the nicotiana benthamiana plant, which is a close relative of tobacco.
US President Barack Obama pledged $85 million over the next two years to assist African nations in developing responses to infectious disease outbreaks, however experts suggest that the lack of commercial value in an Ebola treatment has prevented significant funding being directed towards its development.There are currently 1,350 suspected Ebola deaths throughout Africa, with thousands more believed to be infected with the highly contagious virus. Liberian Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswuah carrys a box containing the Zmapp test drugs for Ebola patients in Liberia. Their study shows a new drug called ZMapp helped 100 percent of monkeys recover from Ebola infection. ZMapp, made by California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, is grown in tobacco plants and is meant to improve on an old-fashioned approach that uses transfusions of blood from people who have survived an infection.


Many of the monkeys were already sick when the treatment started, with fever, rash and evidence of immune system damage. It’s infected about 3,000 people and killed half of them, although WHO says as many as 20,000 people could be infected before it’s over. One of three Liberian doctors who got the drug on a compassionate use basis died earlier this month anyway. Biotech company Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc, provided the experimental ZMapp for the treatment of Ebola patients. Their treatment wasn't part of a controlled clinical trial, but their survival gave doctors hope.



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