Scientists make progress in treating Ebola virus

The Ebola virus is one of the most lethal viral diseases in the world. Now, a partnership of public and private organizations in the United States and Canada says they have found a combination of drugs that could treat the deadly disease.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization reported that at least 580 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had contract the Ebola virus. At least 383 of these people died from the disease.

The spread of the virus has been difficult to contain even if the treatments, including a vaccine, have improved. The ongoing conflict in the east of the country has interfered with the aid.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the place where scientists first discovered the Ebola virus in 1976. At that time, the country was called Zaire. The disease takes its name from the Ebola river where the virus was infecting people.

From the time of its discovery until 2013, there were no treatments or vaccines.

Scientists, however, have begun to study the virus, trying to design better ways to treat its different forms. They managed to produce a vaccine. Vaccinations helped end Ebola outbreak which spread through three countries of West Africa between 2013 and 2016. More than 11,000 people died in that epidemic.

At that time, treatment for the form of the Ebola virus from Zaire was developed. But it was costly to produce and is not effective in treating two other deadly forms of Ebola, Sudan and Bundibugyo viruses.

FILE - A Congolese health worker administers the ebola vaccine to a woman who has had contact with an Ebola patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 18 August 2018.

FILE – A Congolese health worker administers the ebola vaccine to a woman who has had contact with an Ebola patient in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 18 August 2018.

A new combination of drugs for Ebola

Now, scientists have found a treatment for three forms of the virus. Their research produced a combination of drugs called MBP134. They say the treatment helped the infected monkeys from the three forms of ebola to heal.

Furthermore, treatment requires only one injection.

Thomas Geisbert conducted research at the Medical Branch of the University of Texas at Galveston. It was part of a public-private partnership that included the company Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the US Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Geisbert told the VOA of the need for a treatment that would work against all forms of Ebola.

"When an outbreak verificationwe really do not know which of these three tensions, specieswe call them is the cause, "he said.

He added that the previous treatments available had worked well only against the Zaire species. Geisbert said that the goal of his group was to develop a treatment that would work with any form of Ebola.

"If I have to do a drug that works only against Zaire, and another drug that only works against Sudan and another drug that works only against the Bundibugyo species, this is extremely expensive", He noted.

Geisbert said the new treatment will save valuable time in identifying which form of Ebola is spreading into an outbreak. He said it will save lives because people can be treated immediately and will also save money.

Geisbert noted that there are not many profits for the companies that produce the drugs because there is a very small international market for treatments with Ebola.

"So it must really be that way Sponsored from the government, "he said.

In addition to the US Army and the Canadian Government, the United States National Institutes of Health have supported the research.

Geisbert said that future work involves changing the amount of drugs used at their lowest possible levels. This will make it easier to offer it to the public and reduce costs. Also testing medications on humans must be done to ensure that the treatment is safe and works well.

Treatment may not be ready to help people with Ebola infections in the current DRC epidemic. But the countries affected by the virus could have the treatment ready to face future Ebola outbreaks if the additional tests are successful.

I'm Pete Musto.

Carol Pearson reported this story for VOA. Pete Musto has adapted it for the learning of English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the publisher. How much do you think this new treatment will work to prevent the spread of Ebola? We want to hear from you. Write us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.



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Words in this story

to contract(and) – v. get sick of an illness

outbreakn. a sudden start or increase of fighting or disease

occur(S) – v. to happen

effort(S) – n. a type or something like that

speciesn. a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants

expensiveadj. it costs a lot of money

sponsor(and) – v. support, take responsibility or pay someone or something


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