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Ebola Antiviral Treatment ‘Could Be’ Successful

A new report indicates an Ebola antiviral treatment may have successful in a number of cases. This includes protecting British healthcare workers operating in West Africa.

The report has been published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, and it presents information about eight British healthcare workers who were transferred from Sierra Leone to the Royal Free Hospital in London. This was due to a potential accidental exposure to the Ebola virus. The reasons for the ‘accidental exposure’ included injuries sustained from infected needles or exposure to infected patients.

Four of the healthcare workers, who were at risk from needlestick injuries, were administered with Toyama Chemical’s antiviral drug favipiravir (also known as T-705 or Avigan.) Some of the patients were also given monoclonal antibodies (including the drug ZMapp).

None of the patients went on to develop the viral disease and they were monitored for 42 days following exposure. Assessment was made by examining for vital signs and through blood tests.

The satisfactory outcome may have been influenced by the administration of the drug favipiravir. However, because none of the patients exhibited signs of the disease claims about the benefits of the drug cannot be made with certainty.

Dr Michael Jacobs, from the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, London, told PharmaFile: “It is possible that none of these health-care workers were infected with Ebola virus. Therefore, we cannot know for sure whether or not post-exposure prophylaxis prevented the onset of Ebola-virus disease. However, two of the workers had needlestick injuries contaminated with fresh blood from patients with Ebola virus disease, putting them at very high risk of transmission.”

Despite the lack of concrete evidence, investigations into drugs like favipiravir continue. The drug appears to be effective in a mouse model of Ebola virus disease; however, evidence is required in human patients before any further claims can be made.

Since the Ebola outbreak began in March, 2014, over 25,000 cases of Ebola have been reported. According to Pharmaceutical Microbiology: “Ebola is an unpleasant disease. After an incubation time that can stretch to twenty-one days, one of the common signs of the disease is bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites. If the infected person does not recover, death due to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome occurs.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.