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Ebola drug trial starts in Liberia

From: BBC

( 8, 2015)-A trial of a potential drug to treat Ebola has started at a Medecins Sans Frontiers Centre in Liberia.

The antiviral - Brincidofovir - is being tested on Ebola patients on a voluntary basis. People who do not consent to it will be given standard care.

Oxford University scientists leading the research say initial results are expected soon.The experimental research also revealed that a study of similar drug - Favipiravir - began in neighboring Guinea in December, 2014.

More than 8,000 people have died from Ebola outbreaks, the majority in the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

While a handful of experimental drugs, including Brincidofovir and Favipiravir, have been given on an ad hoc, compassionate basis in 2014, none has yet been proven to work against the virus in scientific human trials.

A huge international effort - involving the World Health Organization, MSF, drug companies, the Wellcome Trust, and other global health organizations is intended to fast-track treatments that have been identified as potential options.

Prof Peter Horby, one of the chief investigators at Oxford University, said: "Conducting clinical trials of investigational drugs in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is a new experience for us all, but we are determined not to fail the people of West Africa. “

"We are trying a number of different approaches simultaneously as there is only a short window of opportunity to tackle this virus during the outbreak," Prof. Horby noted.

Scientists at Oxford say brincidofovir was chosen because it is effective against Ebola-infected cells in laboratories, has been deemed safe in more than 1,000 patients in trials against other viruses and can be given conveniently as a tablet.

Researchers are expected to recruit more than 100 people and will compare death rates at the centre before and after the trial.

The other antiviral drug, Favipiravir, being tested by the French National Institute of Health, is already used to treat influenza. It is offered to all patients who receive care at the MSF treatment centre in Gueckedou, Guinea, and early results are expected soon.

In a related development, scientists are testing other drugs and treatments for Ebola therapies.

Oxford University and Tekmira Company hope to establish a further study of a potential treatment to interrupt the genetic code of the virus called TKM-Ebola.

Another approach is to use blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease. Trials are under way in the Guinean capital, Conakry led by the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine. This treatment is also being given to  a British nurse, Pauline Cafferkey in a hospital in London.

Scientists have also discovered that three separate vaccines designed to prevent people from getting the disease, are taking place in Switzerland, UK, US and Mali.

But, while a number of different pharmaceutical attempts are being made to tackle this virus, experts say other strategies, including early and adequate hydration and nutrition are extremely important.



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