ZMapp Ebola wonder drug in use
ZMapp is the miracle cure for Ebola?
Although the effectiveness of the drug ZMapp is not clearly proven, nevertheless great hopes are placed in the so-called miracle cure for Ebola. Currently, however, the active ingredient is used up.
Drug shows effect in several patients
According to a news agency dpa, several Ebola patients with the experimental drug „zmapp“ progress has been made. At least six people have received the drug so far. Two US Ebola patients have healed and two out of three Liberian patients have recovered greatly. This was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO), citing medical doctors from Liberia. The third patient is doing a little better. His condition was further described as serious. A 75-year-old Spaniard who received the remedy also died. However, these reports also had a number of pre-existing conditions.
Too early for statement about effectiveness
But whether ZMapp really is the magic bullet against Ebola remains questionable. It is too early, according to experts, to be able to make a statement for the benefit of the remedy. The drug had not been tested on humans before the epidemic broke out in West Africa. The virologist Prof. Stephan Becker from the University of Marburg said: „We find it difficult to make a statement with the few patients who have been treated at completely different times and under uncontrolled conditions.“
Patients received medication several days after illness
Becker said that it looks like the ZMapp actually helps. The cure of the Americans, however, could have other reasons. A report of the „New England Journal of Medicine“ According to them, the drug was given to them only nine days after their illness. At this stage, the likelihood of survival was much greater after the first few days were often fatal. According to the WHO, the first Ebola symptoms can be observed after an incubation period of two to 21 days.
Surprisingly few side effects
As Becker pointed out, other treatment approaches such as blood transfusion and general medical quality at the US clinic in Atlanta may have contributed to recovery. For example, US physician Kent Brantly had received blood from a 14-year-old patient who had survived Ebola. The drug does not seem to have any serious side effects, said the virologist: „It's surprising that there has not been any side effects - in everything you know so far.“
Active ingredient already used up
The drug ZMapp consists of three antibodies that bind to Ebola proteins and allow the immune system to eliminate infected cells. There were only a few doses of the active ingredient extracted from a tobacco plant. According to WHO, these are already taken. At the beginning of September, experts are invited by WHO to advise international experts in Geneva on further efforts to provide Ebola medicines. Some critics say that aid in the fight against infectious disease comes too late and is not enough. According to experts, the disease can no longer be brought under control this year.
Picture: Harry Hautumm