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Medicine The Military Science

Possible Treatment For Ebola 157

RedEaredSlider writes "Researchers at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have found a class of drugs that could provide treatment for Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fever. The new drugs are called 'antisense' compounds, and they allow the immune system to attack the viruses before they can do enough damage to kill the patient. Travis Warren, research scientist at USAMRIID, said while the work is still preliminary -— the drugs have been tested only on primates — the results are so far promising. In the case of Ebola, five of eight monkeys infected with the virus lived, and with Marburg, all survived. The drugs were developed as part of a program to deal with possible bioterrorist threats, in partnership with AVI Biopharma."
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Possible Treatment For Ebola

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  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:17PM (#33375748) Journal
    While it may not be practical on the bulk of Ebola patients, there are a number of people who contract the disease and then travel to other countries and spread it. However, this isn't necessarily about Ebola. This is a new class of disease fighting agents: anti-sense drugs. They work by slowing down a virus's reproductive rate to the point where the body's defenses gain the advantage. It could work against influenza strains, SARS, Lassa and Dengue fever, and a host of other viral infections.
  • by HomoErectusDied4U ( 1042552 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:36PM (#33375922)
    Your point about poverty and corruption defeating cures and treatments is valid, but is perhaps not entirely applicable to Ebola and Marburg. Both of these viruses are zoonoses, that is, they are transmitted to humans from other animals. We do not know for certain which animals are the natural reservoirs of Filoviruses (Ebola and Marburg are the two genera of the Filoviridae), but an incident in the Philippines in 2009 where Ebola infected swine illustrates that cosmopolitan animals (like pigs) can carry the virus. Furthermore, we know that a wide swathe of mammals (from rodents to bats to marsupials) carry 'fossil' Filovirus genetic material in their genomes, meaning that at least their ancestors were carriers of these viruses. Still further, Ebola and Marburg are part of the order Mononegavirales. This order contains the viruses that cause rabies, measles, mumps, and Newcastle disease (a really nasty scourge of domestic and wild birds). It's certainly possible that this treatment, as it undergoes further development, could be applied to related diseases. Sanitation and vaccination rendered rabies, measles, and mumps more or less non-issues in the developed world decades ago, but the current treatment for, say, rabies (if you contract it) is extremely dangerous and not particularly effective.
  • Primates (Score:3, Informative)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:37PM (#33375928)

    "said while the work is still preliminary - the drugs have been tested only on primates"

    Last time I checked, Humans are primates...

  • by ibsteve2u ( 1184603 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:38PM (#33375930)
    You might want to look at the list of known Ebola outbreaks [cdc.gov] before you determine where to site your stockpile.
  • by Enry ( 630 ) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:55PM (#33376044) Journal

    Ebola-Reston is different than Ebola-Zaire. The Reston strain isn't deadly to humans (so far), so stockpile can be in/near central Africa since that's where most of the Zaire cases were.

  • by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <falconsoaring_20 ... oo.com minus cat> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:17PM (#33376230)

    Researchers at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases have found a class of drugs that could provide treatment for Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fever.

    Is this going to be another example of government spending hundreds of Hundreds Millions of Taxpayer Dollars developing a drug only to give it away exclusively to a pharmaceutical business who can then make billions of dollars on the drug if there's an outbreak? That is exactly what the National Cancer Institute [wikipedia.org] or NCI, part of the US federal government's National Institutes of Health [wikipedia.org] did. The NCI spent more than $484 Million [pdf] [gao.gov] developing and testing Taxol [wikipedia.org] as a breast cancer drug. The NCI then gave Bristol-Myers Squibb, BMS, exclusive rights to its use. What did BMS pay for those rights? BMS paid $35 Million in royalty payments through 2002. BMS had those exclusive rights for more than 10 years. Guess how much BMS sold Taxol for... In 2000 BMS sold $1.6 Billion, earning between $4 and $5 Million [cptech.org] a day.


  • by TeethWhitener ( 1625259 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:24PM (#33376288)

    It almost certainly won't work against the flu. The big problem with RNA interference therapies like this is that viral genomes mutate rapidly. Otherwise we would have had AIDS cured the day after RNAi was published in 1998.

    Ahem... [sciencedaily.com]

    Turns out getting the government to approve drugs takes time.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@NoSPaM.got.net> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:29PM (#33376326) Journal

    Clearly you don't know what you're talking about... the infectious agent of Malaria is the Plasmodia protozoan (not a virus like Yellow Fever), and there is already a precedent for a two part vaccine program that shows great promise (part 1 is a long term vaccine that provides significant resistance, but not immunity, reinforced by part 2 a short term vaccine that imparts full immunity.) The real issue here is one of economics. The 40% of the human beings on the planet at serious and immediate risk are also the poorest 40% of the human population, and therefore are not in position to inspire immediate and significant response from those companies that make vaccines.

    The only real hope for a permanent and lasting solution, is to align first and second world nations in governments in a global effort to eradicate malaria. As long as such a huge reservoir of disease exists, new and vicious mutations will certainly arise, putting global populations at risk of pandemic (exacerbated by global climate change and the growing spread of insect vectors.) Besides the huge humanitarian benefits, there is a more immediate benefit, and it's one of self interest for every citizen of the first and second world. A pandemic, would be a modern plague, resistant to modern drugs, and treatments, and able to kill many millions even billions of people. This should be among our government's top priorities in the new century

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:21PM (#33376972) Journal

    I do believe that Reston was proven to be airborne by USAMRIID.

    Somebody's playing with with the wikipedia ebola Reston page [wikipedia.org]. The page now says that the site of the oubreak was demolished, but has since been rebuilt as a Kindercare. I really seriously doubt this is possible. I would really need video leading from the street signs to the building for this one.

    It says a lot that this is an upbeat article about Ebola [wikipedia.org] that delivers the wonderful news: of the immunized monkeys, only three of eight died! This is one nastly little bug. The fatality rate of Ebola Zaire in humans is up to 90%, with an average fatality rate in humans of 83% over 27 years of experience. Nine of ten dead little humans, in three weeks from infection on the outside or two days if you're lucky. Generally speaking that surviving tenth human isn't well off either as the course of infection normally involves a great deal of organ damage. In the case of a group of people who are all infected the likelihood that the one human of ten would receive the care necessary to survive the fever is remote.

    If just one person with an Ebola that's as fatal as Ebola Zaire and also airborne gets on a commercial jet flight anywhere in the world - ever - it's pretty much game over for civilization in about a month. 200 passengers and 14 crew infected, connecting flights, layovers, every person in every boarding area for each flight, then home to the family and not feeling well. I don't feel well but I've must-do's so off to work the next day on the train (sniff, sneeze) but I'm not feeling well (hack, cough) so early home, stopping at Safeway for some Theraflu, then Wal-Mart because Safeway was out. Oh, my that's a scary summer flu story on the news but I'm too tired to listen (hack, cough blood, seize, hemmorage out of every orifice, die). By the time the alert is raised the bus drivers on some route near one of those places have outplaced the virus so thoroughly that it's too late to do anything about it. Your only hope is that you're in Madagascar and they have Shut Down Everything [knowyourmeme.com]. The only good news about Ebola Zaire is that it kills so many hosts so quickly that outbreaks tend to be self-limiting. In several cases so many died so quickly that the disease had no time to spread.

    The most recent new variant of Ebola virus, Bundibugyo is named after a district in Uganda where it was discovered in 2007. This one is less virulent, only killing 34% of the people infected or probably infected. It scares me more than a little that new variants are being discovered this frequently.

    Not that I want anybody to panic or anything...

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe