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Hopes raised for Ebola treatment

Most monkeys given dual therapy survive infection with lethal virus

2:45pm, October 16, 2013

DEADLY FOE  The lethal Ebola virus (shown in a false-color micrograph) appears susceptible to a combination treatment of antibodies and the antiviral drug interferon alpha, a study in monkeys shows.

A new treatment has protected monkeys exposed to live Ebola virus, one of the world’s most fearsome pathogens. The dual therapy being tested for the first time, a combination of three antibodies and the antiviral drug interferon alpha, rescued nine of 12 animals even after they showed symptoms of disease.

“This is a harbinger of the approach to come,” saysDaniel Bausch, an infectious disease physician at Tulane University in New Orleans who wasn’t involved with the research. Scientists will probably go with a cocktail of drugs against Ebola in future testing, he says. “But it’s too early to say precisely what the cocktail should be.”

Ebola is a rare but lethal virus that has spawned human outbreaks across Central Africa since 1976. It apparently crosses from wild animals to people via exposure to wild game carcasses, causing hemorrhagic disease and high death rates. Neither a vaccine nor a treatment is available.

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