Agence France-PresseAug 14, 2019 08:29:58 IST
Scientists were one step closer to treating Ebola effectively, after it was revealed that two drugs in the clinical trial had significantly increased survival rates, the U.S. health authority co-sponsoring the study said Monday.
The study began last November in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but its current phase has been halted and all future patients switched to treatment that showed positive results, according to a statement from the American National Institutes of Health (NIH).
REGN-EB3 and mAb114 "are the first drugs that clearly showed a significant reduction in mortality for people with Ebola in a science-based study," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. AFP.
Patients who have received two other discontinuing medicines, Zmapp and remdesivir, will now have the option of treating physicians to receive medicines that have been shown to work.
Fauci explained that the trial was designed to involve 725 people, but was stopped by an independent committee when it enrolled 681 people, because at that point one of the drugs, REGN-EB3 Regeneron, reached a critical threshold of success, while mAb114 was not far behind.
So far, data for 499 people in the 681 group have been analyzed.
In that group, mortality dropped to 29 percent with REGN-EB3, and dropped from mAb114 to 34 percent, Fauci said – compared with a rate between 60 and 67 percent in the general population when the disease is not treated with the drug.
Zmapp and remdesivir rates were 49 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
REGN-EB3, mAb114 and Zmapp are monoclonal antibodies that bind glycoprotein to Ebola virus and neutralize its ability to infect other cells.
Fauci added that a final analysis of the data, including patients not yet processed, will occur in late September or early October, after which complete results will be submitted for publication in the medical literature with a review.
The NIH, the Democratic Republic of Congo's health authorities and the World Health Organization welcomed the "extraordinary team of individuals who worked in extremely difficult conditions to conduct this study" as well as patients and their families.
Vaccine is still crucial
Jeremy Farrar, director of the UK charitable research organization Wellcome Trust, said the development would "undoubtedly save lives", adding: "Thanks to this trial, we are beginning to understand what treatment to offer to patients in this and future epidemics."
More than 1800 people have died in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since Ebola erupted there in August last year.
The virus is transmitted to humans by wildlife and then spreads to humans through direct contact with the blood or other excreta of infected humans or with surfaces contaminated with their fluids, according to the World Health Organization.
The latest trial shows that "you can dramatically reduce mortality," Fauci said, "but eliminating Ebola becomes a (case) of prevention, so you can prevent it from spreading."
"The best way to end the epidemic is with a good vaccine, as well as a good contact search, isolation and, ultimately, treatment."
Several vaccine candidates are currently being investigated by health authorities.
Find our entire story collection, in-depth analysis, live updates, videos and more about Chandrayaan 2 Moon Mission on our dedicated # Chandrayaan2TheMoon domain.