First Ebola treatment trials to start in West Africa

Global aid agency Doctors Without Borders said yesterday it would begin unprecedented trials on patients in West Africa to test Ebola drugs and the use of survivors’ blood as therapy. This report emerges as Liberian government yesterday lifted the state of emergency declare over the epidemic caused by the virus. The trials in Guinea are aimed at rushing out an emergency therapy to battle an epidemic which has taken more than 5,000 lives since December.

“This is an unprecedented international partnership which represents hope for patients to finally get a real treatment against a disease that today kills between 50 and 80 percent of those infected,” said Annick Antierens, who is coordinating the trials for the medical charity, known by its French initials MSF. The first trials are due to start in December and results could be available by February next year, MSF said.

Ebola, transmitted through bodily fluids, leads to haemorrhagic fever and in an estimated 70 percent of cases in the current outbreak death. There is no specific treatment regime and, as yet, no licensed vaccine although one of the leading candidates, known as ChAd3 and made by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline, is being tested in Mali and elsewhere. Patients’ best chance of survival, if their condition is caught early enough, is taking paracetamol for their fever, rehydrating and being kept well nourished.

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