ZMapp drug fully protects monkeys against Ebola virus

Experimental treatment to fight infection finds success in animal test

ZMapp, the experimental drug recently given to six people infected with Ebola, has rescued 18 Rhesus macaque monkeys injected with the live virus.

A U.S.-Canadian research team exposed 21 monkeys to Ebola. Eighteen received a three-shot regimen of ZMapp — starting three, four or five days after infection — and survived, even though 11 had developed fever and two were starting to hemorrhage. The other three infected monkeys weren’t given ZMapp and died, the scientists report August 29 in Nature.

Results from treating human patients with the experimental drug, which uses antibodies against the virus, have been more mixed; at least two have died.  

ZMapp and other drugs or vaccines now in development could eventually be used in efforts to stop the current Ebola outbreak. The outbreak could last another six to nine months, according to a “response roadmap” released by the World Health Organization on August 28. More than 3,000 people have been infected with Ebola and more than 1,500 have died. By the time this outbreak ends, however, the number of cases could exceed 20,000, the WHO report warns.

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