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Drug against Ebola and Marburg viruses discovered.
(08/25/2010) Ebola is one of the deadliest diseases on our planet, but fortunately also one of the rarest. Since the fear of bio-terrorist attacks with viruses has increased enormously, especially in the USA after September 11 and the anthrax attacks, the researchers have spared no effort to find a cure since then.
Now, US Army researchers have had their first success in finding drugs to treat Ebola and the almost equally deadly Marburg virus. In trials with monkeys, 60 percent of the animals infected with the Ebola Zaire strain survived their disease if they were treated with the preparation "Avi-6002" shortly after infection. In the case of the Marburg virus, the drug "Avi-6003" even achieved 100 percent healing success, according to the researchers from the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in the journal "Nature Medicine".
The course of Ebola disease is one of the most terrible known diseases on our planet and, depending on the Ebola strain, ends in around 90 percent of infected people and 100 percent of infected monkeys. Anyone who becomes infected is only lethargic after about 10 days of incubation, vomits, gets a high fever and begins to bleed from all pores. Internal bleeding, bleeding into tissue (bruising), blood in stool and urine, as well as bleeding from the skin and mucous membranes are characteristic of the course of the disease, often accompanied by liver and kidney dysfunction with edema. In the final stage of the disease, the internal organs literally dissolve and the associated bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, the spleen and the lungs usually leads to the death of the patient. Shortly before death, the risk of infection from contact with those affected is particularly high, since the body fluids emerging from all pores are highly contagious.
The antidote now being researched is intended to strengthen the body's immune system by blocking genes that the viruses need to reproduce. This gives the body time and its own immune system can respond better to the infection. The use of “Avi-6002” means that the Ebola virus spread in the blood after one week is around 100 times lower than in patients without treatment.
Since Avi-6002 must be administered immediately after infection, it offers rather poor conditions for use in remote regions, in acute epidemics such as. B. the outbreak of the disease in a hospital or accidental infection in the laboratory, however, the preparation can be very helpful.
The effectiveness of the drug, which has so far only been tested on animals, is now to be tested on humans in accordance with the plans of the manufacturer AVI BioPharma, which works closely with the American military. However, the primary aim is to determine the side effects so that the preparation can subsequently receive its marketing approval. Because with such dangerous viruses as Ebola, conventional studies cannot apply for market approval and the natural occurrence is too rare or unpredictable to be used for study purposes. In the case of such diseases, a market approval of corresponding antidotes by the FDA is exceptionally permitted if they have been able to prove their effectiveness in animal experiments and the side effects in healthy people were not too extensive. In order to complete the approval process for "Avi-6002" & "Avi-6003", the FDA has now approved tests with human volunteers in which the side effects of the new drugs can be checked.
The United States Department of Defense in particular is exerting enormous pressure to approve the drug, as fear of terrorist attacks is particularly great here and contracts have already been negotiated with AVI BioPharma researchers for further cooperation. AVI BioPharma can therefore be pleased that a contract has already been agreed that will secure the company over $ 291 million for future research work.
However, if this $ 291 million were used sensibly for development aid and the like in “countries hostile to America”, much more would be gained in the fight against the feared bioterrorism than by researching a vaccine for a disease on the approximately 1,200 worldwide since its discovery in 1976 People have died. (fp)