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The Ebola Virus disease (EVD), now an international emergency, has claimed over 1000 lives in a very short span of time and the number will certainly keep increasing unless effective treatment and preventive measures are held in place. In terms of prevention, the situation still seems quite under control in areas where Ebola has not yet spread. But in terms of treatment, rigorous research and testing of therapies for Ebola is needed.
With the WHO's approval for the use of experimental therapies for Ebola, the attention has now been diverted to ZMapp, the experimental drug to be received by Liberia from the U.S. Here are some facts about ZMapp, experimental Ebola drug, you should be aware about:
ZMapp is a combination of antibodies
ZMapp is actually a mixture of antibodies that are designed to target and inactivate the Ebola virus. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDS), the drug is combination of three different antibodies produced by exposing mice to fragments of the virus. The generated antibodies were then extracted to make the drug.
ZMapp mimics natural immune response
Natural antibodies produced in the body confer direct protection against the pathogen by attacking them directly. Similarly, these lab designed antibodies also attack the virus but in a specific way. The antibodies are designed such that they bind to a specific part of the virus and mimic the natural response of your immune system. They also develop active immunisation.
ZMapp is effective in primates, studies in humans yet to be done
In a documented study, this combination of antibodies was found to effectively treat 43% of animals challenged with the Ebola virus. Soon after the Ebola outbreak killed several West African citizens in afflicted areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia, ZMapp was used for the treatment of two Americans diagnosed with the infection. The drug showed promising results and both the patients seemed to be improving after taking them. However, the drug was used on an experimental basis. It is yet to be proven safe and effective through clinical trials.
Photo source: Getty images
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Pettitt J, Zeitlin L, Kim do H, Working C, Johnson JC, Bohorov O, Bratcher B, Hiatt E, Hume SD, Johnson AK, Morton J, Pauly MH, Whaley KJ, Ingram MF, Zovanyi A, Heinrich M, Piper A, Zelko J, Olinger GG. Therapeutic intervention of Ebola virus infection in rhesus macaques with the MB-003 monoclonal antibody cocktail. Sci Transl Med. 2013 Aug 21;5(199):199ra113. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006608. PubMed PMID: 23966302.
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