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Medicine Science

Experimental Drug Stops Ebola-like Infection 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the side-effects-may-include-spontaneous-combustion dept.
sciencehabit writes: An experimental treatment against an Ebola-related virus can protect monkeys even when given up to 3 days after infection, the point at which they show the first signs of disease. The virus, known as Marburg, causes severe hemorrhagic fever—vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. In one outbreak, it killed 90% of people it infected. There are no proven treatments or vaccines against it. The new results raise hopes that the treatment might be useful for human patients even if they don't receive it until well after infection. The company that makes the compound, Tekmira, based in Burnaby, Canada, has started a human safety trial of a related drug to treat Ebola virus disease, and researchers hope that it, too, might offer protection even after a patient has started to feel ill. In other Ebola news, the two American aid workers who were infected with the virus while in Liberia have now recovered and been released from the hospital.
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Experimental Drug Stops Ebola-like Infection

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  • So? Old news. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@cCOWornell.edu minus herbivore> on Thursday August 21, 2014 @11:58AM (#47721721) Homepage

    Success in a test tube and/or monkeys doesn't mean much as far as hope for a drug viable for humans. After all, the trials for Tekmira's drug are on hold by the FDA due to safety concerns ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho... [cbsnews.com] ).

    Also, Tekmira is NOT the company that manufactured the drug used to treat Dr. Brantly and his coworker - that was Mapp Pharmaceutical's ZMapp

    • Shhh. It's a recently completed study and it's "topical". That's better than most science news manages.

    • Success in a test tube and/or monkeys doesn't mean much as far as hope for a drug viable for humans. After all, the trials for Tekmira's drug are on hold by the FDA due to safety concerns ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho... [cbsnews.com] ).

      I don't know how to ethically do human trials for this. With monkeys, they infect them with the virus, then give the vaccine and see if the animal develops symptoms. Would we knowingly and purposefully infect humans with Ebola? Or are there enough people out there who have been exposed within three days and are as of yet symptom free? The particular strain of Ebola they tested with has a mortality rate of 90% - too high to responsibly give someone.

      • by Tanuki64 (989726)

        Would we knowingly and purposefully infect humans with Ebola?

        This depends only on three factors:
        1. Skin colour
        2. The expected profit
        3. The expectation to get away with it

        • by mspohr (589790)

          All we need is for white people to be at risk and the investment will be there:

          http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

          • by pesho (843750)
            The "drug" is based on siRNA which means that it has to be exactly matched to the virus RNA sequence, it uses a sophisticated delivery system (liposomes I gather) and needs storage infrastructure (deep freezers capable of maintaining -80C for long term storage). Considering all of the above, it is a safe bet that mostly rich white people can afford the luxury.
            • by geekmux (1040042)

              The "drug" is based on siRNA which means that it has to be exactly matched to the virus RNA sequence, it uses a sophisticated delivery system (liposomes I gather) and needs storage infrastructure (deep freezers capable of maintaining -80C for long term storage). Considering all of the above, it is a safe bet that mostly rich white people can afford the luxury.

              So, in other words, we haven't found a cure yet.

              At all.

              • So, in other words, we haven't found a cure yet. Correct, strictly speaking it is not a "cure".

                It interferes with the assembly of the final virus, that means the transport mechanisms moving virus particles around get blocked by those siRNA particles.

                Imagine it as a bus which is full with siRNA, so the "bad guys" who like to jump on it can not get into it.

                Regarding prices as our parent complains, that technology is not really that expensive (to use and cure). However the development likely was.

          • All we need is for white people to be at risk and the investment will be there:

            http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

            Being White doesn't cut it; you need to be rich. BTW, why don't people give rich Blacks as much grief as they give rich Whites?

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        > Or are there enough people out there who have been exposed within three days and are as of yet symptom free?

        Well that number seems to be increasing every day. So that is a positive um right?

        Actually I think the way you do it is with a double blind in a population that is already likely to be exposed, or likely to be exposed soon.... then watch for whether the people vaccinated with the real deal vs the placbo get infected at higher rates.

        Since you don't even know if it works, its not like you are actua

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Success in a test tube and/or monkeys doesn't mean much as far as hope for a drug viable for humans. After all, the trials for Tekmira's drug are on hold by the FDA due to safety concerns ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho... [cbsnews.com] ).

        I don't know how to ethically do human trials for this. With monkeys, they infect them with the virus, then give the vaccine and see if the animal develops symptoms. Would we knowingly and purposefully infect humans with Ebola? Or are there enough people out there who have been exposed within three days and are as of yet symptom free? The particular strain of Ebola they tested with has a mortality rate of 90% - too high to responsibly give someone.

        Then I'd say they need to move their ass and get down to Liberia where we likely have plenty of test subjects.

        And ethics have little to do with it when you're facing a 90% mortality rate. Anyone with sense enough would likely sign up for the drug no questions asked if they tested positive for Ebola.

    • In your case it would help if you simply had read the article. So you had figured how the drug actually works.
      And hence had not written that nonsense.
      The drug is based on siRNA, which works the exact same way in every warm blooded animal/human. So your "fear" (comment?) it might not work in humans is moot.

      Also, Tekmira is NOT the company that manufactured the drug used to treat Dr. Brantly and his coworker - that was Mapp Pharmaceutical's ZMapp

      That is correct.

      • by khallow (566160)

        So your "fear" (comment?) it might not work in humans is moot.

        Unless of course, it doesn't work in humans. Then his "fear" is somewhat appropriate.

        Just because two organisms have something in common with respect to this drug doesn't mean that their differences won't matter.

        • Just because two organisms have something in common with respect to this drug doesn't mean that their differences won't matter.
          It is not a 'drug'.
          It is a short 20 - 25 bases long RNA strand. (You know what DNA and RNA is?)
          That works exactly the same in every life form based on cells with a nucleus. No idea how the exact english name for it is, as I don't know the proper spelling of the german/latin word and can mot google it. Something like Eukariots.

          So: there are no differences that 'could matter'. Can be

          • by khallow (566160)

            It is not a 'drug'.
            It is a short 20 - 25 bases long RNA strand. (You know what DNA and RNA is?)

            Let's actually look at the definition of drug [google.com]:

            a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body

            Sure, we could come up with a new phrase every time we do anything slightly differently, but there's no point to it. It just makes communication overly complex.

            That works exactly the same in every life form based on cells with a nucleus. No idea how the exact english name for it is, as I don't know the proper spelling of the german/latin word and can mot google it. Something like Eukariots.

            The human body is not a cell nucleus. For example, if this drug triggers an allergy response, then you have both harm and the destruction of the drug before it can do something useful.

            • Well, arguing with you makes no sense.

              First it is not a drug but a kind of "gene therapy" (actually it is not, but it is much closer than a 'drug')

              The human body is not a cell nucleus. For example, if this drug triggers an allergy response, then you have both harm and the destruction of the drug before it can do something useful.

              Good point, now you made perfectly clear why the treatment we are talking about: is not a drug.
              And you emphasize that you are not interested in science, otherwise you would not wri

              • by khallow (566160)

                how should an siRNA particle trigger an allergic response?

                By the same mechanisms any other molecule triggers an allergy response.

      • Even if siRNA works by the same mechanism in all vertebrate cells there are many steps were a difference between species can make it a failed treatment. For example there are many RNA viruses that can encapsulate replication machinery in certain types of cells, that helps avoiding innate immunity mechanism, if this happens in target cells in humans (may not be the same in monkeys) then the encapsulation would interrupt also the siRNA binding to viral RNA making it useless. also there is a posibility of inte

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It's another step in trial.

    • by dentin (2175)

      The FDA has -safety concerns- testing a drug that might be effective against a -contagious disease with a 90% fatality rate-?

      Somebody's priorities are in the wrong order.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    May include "sleeplessness, resistance to cold weather effects, dry mouth, and a hankering for maple syrup."

    Zombie-like symptoms may arise for patients craving a trip to Tim's for a double-double...

    • May include "sleeplessness, resistance to cold weather effects, dry mouth, and a hankering for maple syrup."

      Zombie-like symptoms may arise for patients craving a trip to Tim's for a double-double...

      Sounds like one of the potions from Skyrim...

      resistance to cold: +50%, stamina: -5%, cure disease: +100%, maple syrup addiction: +500%

      mmmmmm... maple syrup.....

      • by peragrin (659227)

        Hmm should the FDA relabel foods and drugs that way?
        Instead of May cause drowsiness. +10% chance of drowsiness. -7% to reaction time.
        +10% chance of delusions

        On Tequilla 50% chance of hangover 12 hours later.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          On Tequilla 50% chance of hangover 12 hours later, 25% chance of Black eye, 30% chance of break up, 17% chance waking with a stranger

  • I'm assuming that the two U.S. aid workers were not treated with this - is anyone exploring a broader application of whatever was used in their cases?
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Wasn't that drug also given to the Spanish guy who died?

      Given this Ebola variant seems to have about a 50% death rate, there's a 25% chance two people would survive anyway. It needs to be given to a lot more people to determine how well it really works.

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @12:25PM (#47721957) Homepage Journal

    Strictly speaking it is a complete different virus that is only based on similar construction principles (Filoviridae) *and* unfortunately has similar symptoms.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @12:47PM (#47722163)

    I saw the news conference of the doctor who was cured of Ebola and it's a great example of how religion twists the mind. The guy stood there in front of the cameras and spent ages thanking God for his recovery, then gave a long description of how people who had prayed for him also helped. Right at the end the doctors who had done the ACTUAL WORK keeping him alive got a passing mention.

    Crazy.

    • Yeah, and the nerve of him using his talents and going to help all those people in the name of his god. Just trying to make others look bad.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @03:12PM (#47723499)
      I too am a little incensed when I hear people thank God for saving them from their illness. Not out of any particular dislike for religion, but for the fact that if you believe God is responsible you ought to accept that He is also the guilty party when you were infected in the first place. A little cognitive dissonance goes a long way.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's very simple. Anything that befalls on people is just a game from god (or devil ) to test the resolve of their belief.
        So you will never here a "Why god, Why ?" from the true believers. They consider all this shit just a trial for the limited amount of people due to be "saved" during the rapture.
        Talk with one of them. Your head will hurt for days,

    • by Issarlk (1429361)
      It can be easilly put to the test. Among the next missionaries would catch ebola, 50% should refuse the ZMap treatment and get to be given an unique chance to show the world that god and prayer are what heal them. Surelly a true believer will be overjoyed by the idea, lots of people would be convinced and convert and be saved by our lord Jesus Christ.
  • by wirehead_rick (308391) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @01:54PM (#47722911)

    to go back to Africa and help fight the outbreak.

    Since they are now immune and being health care professionals they are uniquely qualified to handle the treatment of Ebola patients without fear of dying from it.

    • You don't get immune with the new treatments. They are not vaccines. They are "medicine". Just like Quinine was given against Malaria. (And strictly speaking: vaccines don't cure anyway ... giving an ordinary vaccine when you are already ill does not help, in fact it makes things worse)

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.

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