Ebola drug shows promising results in heart of Congo outbreak

By MICHELLE FAY CORTEZ | Bloomberg | Published: August 12, 2019

An experimental Ebola drug showed promising results in a trial conducted in the middle of an ongoing outbreak that has killed at least 1,600 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A treatment made by the U.S. drugmaker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., called REGN-EB3, worked well enough compared with three rival compounds that the trial will be changed. People in the trial will have the option to switch onto Regeneron's drug or another compound under development by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases called mAb114.

Almost 700 Ebola patients participated in the trial and were split into groups. Of those, 29% of those who got Regeneron's drug died from Ebola, compared with 49% on a drug by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., 53% on one from Gilead, and 34% on mAb114.

Ebola typically kills about 50% of people infected, though fatality rates have ranged from 20% to 90% in previous outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization.

Survival rates were far better when patients were treated early, before the virus had replicated through the body at a high rate. In those patients, who have what's called low viral load, only 6% who got Regeneron's drug died.

The Congo Ebola outbreak began in August 2018. The WHO has said it has confirmed more than 2,600 cases and almost 1,700 deaths, as of an Aug. 8 report. Health authorities are also testing a vaccine made by Merck & Co., and another vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson is under development as well.

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