Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
December 3rd, 2019

Just 2 Ebola Medicines Found Safe and Effective

The efficacy of MAb114 and REGN-EB3 Ebola Zaire medicines in the PALM study opens potential paths toward licensure

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During 2019, there has been significant, positive development of tools to prevent and treat the Ebola Zaire disease.

Just last month, the European Medicines Agency approved the Ervebo vaccine on the basis of its safety profile.

The Ervebo vaccine, formally known as v920 (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP), is a recombinant, replication-competent preventive vaccine.

And on November 27, 2019, a new study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found 2 therapeutic medications were effective at reducing Ebola-related fatalities in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials.

The PALM study of 4 investigational therapies for Ebola was conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an outbreak began in August 2018. 

681 patients who had a positive result for Ebola virus RNA on reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction assay were enrolled in the study.

Both MAb114 and REGN-EB3 medications were found superior to ZMapp in reducing mortality from Ebola.

This is good news since the Ebola virus can cause serious illness, and no medicines are currently approved to treat it. 

‘The therapeutic effects of these two monoclonal antibody products were sufficiently promising that it is worth exploring the cost, the number of doses that can be manufactured, and the possible target populations for use,’ said Myron M. Levine, M.D., in a related editorial.

‘The efficacy of these two agents in reducing the case fatality rate was greater among patients who sought treatment early after symptom onset, who had low viral loads, and who had lower baseline creatinine or alanine aminotransferase levels — that is, these products were more effective in patients who were less severely ill and who were ill for shorter durations.’

‘Social engagement with the community can encourage patients to seek care early.’ 

‘But early care of patients also requires the availability of rapid diagnostics and ease of travel to treatment centers. These issues must be addressed in future Ebola outbreaks to enhance the therapeutic effect of the monoclonal antibody products that we hope will be available.’

‘It would be desirable to have stockpiles of both products if licensure is obtained for them,’ concluded Dr. Levine.

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The Zaire ebolaviruses are members of the Filoviridae family and are known primarily as the underlying cause of severe viral hemorrhagic fevers, with disturbingly high case fatality rates. 

The 2013-2016 West African outbreak significantly exceeded all previous outbreaks in geographic range, the number of patients affected, and in disruption of typical activities of civil society. 

In 2018, there have been 2 additional outbreaks of Ebola infection, both in the DRC, and constituting the 9th and 10th recorded outbreaks of this infection in that country. 

The 10th outbreak is currently ongoing in the DRC as of December 2018 and has raised great concern because of the potential to expand greatly in scope and to spread to surrounding regions.

To combat this serious outbreak, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it was providing nearly $56 million in additional humanitarian assistance.

Announced on November 8, 2019, this USAID additional funding increases the USA’s total to more than $266 million since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC during August 2018.

A total of 3,286 Ebola Zaire virus cases and 2,191 related fatalities have been reported in the DRC, as of November 9, 2019.

Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the existing Level 2 Travel Alert regarding the Ebola Zaire outbreak in the DRC.

This Travel Alert says ‘travelers to this area could be infected with Ebola if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.’

‘But, the risk of Ebola infection for most travelers to DRC is low.’

However, the CDC says ‘travelers to the DRC should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising during or after travel.’

Ebola vaccine and medication news published by Vax-Before-Travel