19th Century Cure for Ebola
By Express News Service | Published: 17th August 2014 06:00 AM |
The so-called miraculous treatment of the two American missionaries struck down by the Ebola virus has been in the headlines for the past week, but where did this drug come from? In a scientific commentary, Dr Scott Podolsky writes that the inspiration for the drug is rooted in the pioneering research of the late 19th century. The missionaries—Karl Brantly and Nancy Writebol—were working at a hospital in Liberia, where it is believed they contracted the deadly Ebola virus—responsible for 961 deaths during the current outbreak, according to the World Health Organization, till middle of last week. At present, treatment for the disease is limited to intensive supportive care. However, the missionaries were offered the opportunity to be given ZMapp—an experimental drug that had previously only been tested on monkeys—and it looks as though the treatment may have saved their lives. Podolsky, associate professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has written in the Annals of Internal Medicine that ZMapp has much in common with methods of treating illness that were being developed toward the end of the 19th century. ZMapp is a three-mouse monoclonal antibody; it was made by collecting the antibodies created in the blood of mice after exposing them to fragments of the Ebola virus.