Two potential drugs showed promise as a cure for Ebola hemorrhagic fever by reducing mortality in clinical trials. But prevention is considered as the best medicine.
Quite a few studies have been conducted, but the current phase has been halted, and all future patients have been switched over to those that showed promising results, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said in a statement.
Development of Drugs:
Two drugs, namely, Regeneron's REGN-EB3 and a monoclonal antibody mAb114 were developed using the antibodies harvested from Ebola survivors. These two seemed better among the four potential treatments conducted. So the other two products will be dropped, namely, Zmapp and remdesivir. REGN-EB3, mAb114, and Zmapp are monoclonal antibodies that work by binding to glycoprotein on the Ebola virus. Thus the virus will no longer be able to infect other cells.
Hence, there are now two treatments available for the disease which not long ago seemed as no approach at all.
Ebola has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018, killing 1,800 people. The initial outbreak was when it spread through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, from 2013 to 2016, killing 11,300 people.
About the Trial:
The trial was planned to include 725 people but stopped enrolling more than 681 people when one drug, Regeneron's REGN-EB3, reached a critical threshold of success and the other, mAb114, was not far behind. Among the 681, data analysis was done for 499 people. In this group, mortality dropped to 29percent with Regeneron's REGN-EB3, and to 34 percent for mAb114. This is compared to a high rate of 60 and 67 percent mortality among the general population who did not receive the drug. The mortality rates for Zmapp and remdesivir were 49 percent and 53 percent respectively.
The decision to stop two drugs, Zmapp and remdesivir was because the other two had better survival rates.
An international research group conducts the Congo drugs trial along with WHO.
Anthony Fauci, director of the US NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the complete results would be submitted for publication in the peer-reviewed medical literature.
Prevention and Cure
The news about the drugs are welcome, but in order to stop Ebola, preventable measures must be taken. It should be preventable and treatable. It might not be possible to eradicate Ebola, but measures must be taken to prevent the deadly disease from becoming a national or regional epidemic.
Fauci said that the best way to end the outbreak is with an effective vaccine, also, good contact tracing, isolation, and finally treatment.