ZMapp saves Ebola-infected monkeys in 'monumental achievement'
- A study published in the journal Nature on Friday finds that CA-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical's experimental Ebola treatment, ZMapp, successfully saved all 18 Ebola-infected rhesus macaque monkeys that were given the drug in an animal trial.
- This is the first ZMapp trial to be performed on monkeys. ZMapp was effective even on advanced Ebola cases, saving monkeys that had been living with the infection for five days.
- Mapp Biopharma has already used up all of its available ZMapp stockpile. Free doses of the drug were distributed to Spanish, American, and Liberian health workers.
The international team of scientists that conducted the study minced few words about its implications. "I think it's significant and a very important step forward in the fight against the Ebola virus," said Gary Kobinger of the Public Health Agency of Canada in a conference call with reporters. "We could rescue animals who had advanced disease."
Thomas W. Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston added that the results constituted a "monumental achievement" in commentary published with the Nature study.
Although several Ebola-infected people treated with ZMapp still died, two American patients who received doses of the drug have reportedly recovered. Mapp is currently out of ZMapp doses, and it is likely to take months to create enough new product to be distributed to afflicted regions.
All told, it's been an encouraging week for progress on Ebola drugs. The FDA gave GSK's experimental Ebola vaccine the go-ahead for phase I human trials on Wednesday, and testing is expected to commence next month. Now, it's a race against the clock as the outbreak spreads to other countries, including a new strain in the Republic of Congo and the first reported case in Senegal. The United Nations believes that as many as 20,000 people could become infected over the course of the outbreak, which has a fatality rate of approximately 52%.