About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Soon Ebola Might Meet Its Downfall

by Kalyani Thivakaran on December 15, 2014 at 12:03 AM
Font : A-A+

 Soon Ebola Might Meet Its Downfall

Ebola might meet its downfall soon as scientists scramble to relegate it to a footnote of medical history. After decades making brief, murderous forays from central Africa's forests, Ebola erupted into a global emergency in 2014.

From a single infection in impoverished west Africa, the epidemic swept into bustling cities, killed thousands and unleashed a wave of fear in far-off Europe and America.


From a standing start in August, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave the green light for the use of experimental treatments, and with vaccines being developed there are already a dozen leading candidates for anti-Ebola medication.

"People are very hopeful that we may be seeing some early results towards the end of the first quarter (of 2015) with some of these therapeutics," said Michael Kurilla of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

"If these things do prove to be efficacious, we may be able to approve some of them and then have cures or specific licensed treatments for Ebola."

First diagnosed in the former Zaire in 1976, the virus killed 1,590 people in 24 outbreaks until 2012, with a death rate of up to 90 percent of the infected in the worst cases, the victims often suffering massive internal and external bleeding.

But it inflicted few deaths compared with diseases like AIDS or malaria and only broke out in poor, remote areas with drug research limited and driven mainly by the US government's bio-terror fears.

"There has been little incentive to date for the private sector to invest in and commercialise products that might only ever be needed in the poorest parts of the world," said Sharon Lewin, director of the University of Melbourne's Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

End of indifference

Since the beginning of the year, Ebola has killed more than 6,500 people, spilling from Guinea into its west African neighbours before causing the first-ever domestic infections outside of Africa two in the United States and one in Spain.

As governments closed borders and screened air passengers, indifference towards the epidemic evaporated and pharmaceutical companies began a race to develop treatments, vaccines and faster, mobile diagnostic tests.

Among the vaccines, cAd3-ZEBOV recently reported good results from early Phase I safety tests on a group of healthy volunteers in the United States.

"We are manufacturing approximately 20,000 additional doses of the vaccine candidate so that if the ongoing Phase I trials are successful, we can begin the next phases", hopefully "early in 2015", pharma company GlaxoSmithKline told AFP.

Among the treatments, frontrunner ZMapp has already been given to a number of stricken medical personnel, though its efficacy is not proven and doses have run out.

Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs are also being tested, and trials will start soon with therapies based on the blood or plasma of Ebola survivors.

Scientists believe the epidemic will be under control within a year in any case, but warn that the virus will continue to survive in an animal "reservoir", possibly fruit bats, from where it jumps every so often to humans in close contact.

And while hopes are riding on a pharmaceutical breakthrough some experts say improvements in medical infrastructure and infection control measures such as isolating patients, contact tracing and education provide the best answers.

"Outbreaks that have occurred in the past, they have been stopped without vaccine," said David Heymann, a virologist and head of the Centre on Global Health Security.

Source: AFP


Recommended Reading

Latest Tropical Disease News

Oral Cholera Vaccine Launched in India by Pharma Giants
Mumbai's TechInvention Lifecare and South Korean Eubiologics team up to introduce oral cholera vaccine in India after successful phase III clinical trial.
Evolving Threat of Dengue Virus in India
Scientists have found that the dengue virus has become more severe in India, highlighting the urgent need for vaccines that target the strains found in the country.
 Watch Out for Acute Kidney Disease as a Complication of Malaria
It is important to consider malarial infection in cases of acute kidney injury in someone with a travel history from endemic areas to improve treatment outcomes.
India's Malaria Vaccine Gets the Green Light for First Time in Ghana
Ghana approves the use of the University of Oxford's malaria vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), becoming the first country to adopt the new vaccine.
 Deadly Dengue Virus Hijacks Mosquito Saliva to Spread Sickness
The dengue virus combines molecules from its RNA with mosquito saliva to foil the human immune system and spread dengue fever and related diseases.
View All
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Soon Ebola Might Meet Its Downfall Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests