Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently published an encouraging study that showed that the antiviral remdesivir and antibodies of the ZMapp treatment were successful in combating Ebola. All results have been published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
The study also showed that a reverse engineering virus developed was actually an excellent substitute for the virus found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We must keep in mind that they do not have access to the real thing there.
Are the treatments useful for what is happening at the moment in the DRC?
There are two experimental treatments that have been used in DRC since November last year. The data showed that they were efficient. Drugs were developed between 2014 and 2016 when the West African epidemic occurred. They used it for a different strain of the Ebola virus. And due to the fact that Ebola is an RNA virus, it can actually mutate. People wondered if the treatments would be useful for this kind of effort that is happening right now in the DRC.
The researchers decoded a sample of this type of epidemic, called the Ituri strain in a biosafety level 4 laboratory. We are talking about the type of maximum security. They did it to test the treatments. They also created the synthetic virus because there were no samples of the current strain available from the DRC.
As technology continues to progress and viral tensions become increasingly feasible, if the isolates are not available, the study authors recommend a policy in which reverse genetics is used to obtain epidemic strains as a standard practice.
This is the first time that reverse genetics technology has been used to isolate an Ebola virus.
Brad was a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, an award-winning travel, culture and parent writer. His writing has appeared in many of Canada's most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who is not afraid of being controversial, he is known nationally as a journalist who opens people's eyes to the reality behind the accepted practices in childcare. Brad is a contributing journalist for Advocator.ca