Ebola may soon be a “preventable and treatable” disease, scientists have said, after two of four drugs being trialled in the major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were found to have significantly reduced the death rate.
Four drugs were trialled on patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there is a major outbreak of the virus.
Two of those, named REGN-EB3 and mAb114, were more effective in treating the disease, the study found.
ZMapp, used during the massive Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, has been dropped along with Remdesivir after two monoclonal antibodies, which block the virus, had substantially more effect, said the World Health Organization and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was a co-sponsor of the trial.
The trial in the DRC, which started in November, has now been stopped. All Ebola treatment units will now use the two monoclonal antibody drugs.
“From now on, we will no longer say that Ebola is incurable,” said Prof Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the director general of the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in DRC, which has overseen the trial. “These advances will help save thousands of lives.”
“Now that 90% of their patients can go into the treatment centre and come out completely cured, they will start believing it and building trust in the population and community,” he said.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the US NIAID, said the overall mortality of those given ZMapp in the trial in four centres was 49% while that of Remdesivir was 53%. A monoclonal antibody drug made by Regeneron had the lowest overall death rate, at 29%, while the monoclonal antibody 114 made by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics had a mortality rate of 34%.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which co-sponsored the trial, said the results are “very good news” for the fight against Ebola.
The drugs work by attacking the Ebola virus with antibodies, neutralising its impact on human cells.They were developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola, which has killed more than 1,800 people in DR Congo in the past year.