ZMapp, a cocktail experimental treatment created by Mapp Biopharmaceutical and LeafBio to fight the deadly fast-spreading deadly virus Ebola, is still in clinical stage and currently only two volunteering aid workers are undergoing the treatment, which is based on injecting the tobacco plants with the virus and extracting the antibodies generated by the plansts, that too in Australia.
Otherwise, the tests were done on moneys and other primates so far and questions remain writ large though initial reports said the aid workers are improving, if not deteriorating after receiving the ZMapp Ebola treatment.
This year’s Ebola outbreak in the West African nations is worst in history and hit about 3,000 Indian CRPF personnel based in the region as part of the UN peacekeeping operations. Their return and the chances of these jawans developing the infections is already sending immigration authorities across India’s airports to impose quarantine restrictions on flights coming from this region.
The Ebola virus, which kills roughly 60 percent of people infected and is transmitted through human or animal contact, is difficult to predict unlike other fatal viruses such as HIV. It emerges without notice and infects relatively fewer people. The cure is still not perfect there are only few facilities equipped to handle the virus.
Currently, a few pharmaceutical companies have been working with the U.S. military to find a drug that can fight the deadly virus, which has killed 700 people and infected more than 1,000 since March in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
As the worst Ebola outbreak in history continues to sweep across West Africa, many around the world are searching for a cure. The virus, which kills roughly 60 percent of people infected and is transmitted through human or animal contact, is difficult to study. While other fatal viruses such as HIV are predictable, Ebola seems to emerge without notice, and infects relatively fewer people.
Moreover, there are only a handful of facilities equipped to handle the virus, which further slows any research process. But despite the difficulties, a few pharmaceutical companies have been working with the U.S. military to help find a drug that can take on the deadly virus, which has killed more than 700 people and infected more than 1,000 since March in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“There are so many things we don’t know about why somebody may recover and which antibodies might be effective,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC. “The sad fact is we don’t have any proven treatment for Ebola. We don’t have any proven vaccine against Ebola.”
The treatment undertaken by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals MB-003 uses the drug developed with the help of tobacco leaves in two stages — passive immunization, which means the antibodies attack the virus directly, combined with active immunization that helps boost the patient’s immune system to fight back on its own.
“We can manufacture both of these post-Ebola exposure reagents for a defensive stockpile, using tobacco,” said Charles Arntzen of Arizona’s Biodesign Institute. The team there tested it on mice and found that 80 percent of them survived.
In another research, Canada-based Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. (TSE:TKM) has been working on Ebola treatment for four years as part of a $140 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Known as TKM-EBOLA, the treatment uses “Lipid Nanoparticle” technology, which sends the drugs through the patient’s bloodsteam with tiny oil particles, called small interfering RNA (siRNA).
It has saved several primates injected with a fatal amount of the virus and since January, it has been tested on humans in a clinical trial. While the trail may take years before it hits the market, the Canadian company’s stock has soared more than 50 percent in the past two weeks.
The third treatment is rather simple but involves all those survivors whose plasma is injected into new patients’ blood stream. In a 1995 outbreak in Zaire, doctors who had survived an infection donated their blood to eight health workers showing Ebola symptoms, and seven of them survived.
Otherwise, ZMapp, a collaboration between Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc.and LeafBio (San Diego, CA), Defyrus Inc. (Toronto, Canada), the U.S. government and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said the decision to apply ZMapp treatment is entirely the physician’s own decision as it is still in clinical stage.
ZMapp is composed of three “humanized” monoclonal antibodies manufactured in plants, specifically Nicotiana. It is an optimized cocktail combining the best components of MB -‐003 (Mapp) and ZMAb (Defyrus/PHAC), said the firm in a statement.
ZMapp was first identified as a drug candidate in January 2014 and has not yet been evaluated for safety in humans, hence not available in the market yet. “Any decision to use an experimental drug in a patient would be a decision made by the treating physician under the regulatory guidelines of the FDA. Mapp and its partners are cooperating with appropriate government agencies to increase production as quickly as possible,” said the company.