Secret drug might have saved Ebola patients


A top-secret experimental drug was flown to Liberia last week and likely saved the lives of U.S. missionary workers who have contracted Ebola, CNN reported Monday.

The drug, called ZMapp, was sent by a representative from the National Institutes of Health to Samaritan’s Purse, the aid organization Dr. Kent Brantly works for in Liberia. Nancy Writebol works for SIM USA, which partners with Samaritan’s Purse. 

Mapp Biopharmaceutical, a biotechnology firm, manufactured the drug and had only tested it in monkeys, with promising results, CNN said.

{mosads}CNN said the company’s documents indicate the drug was given to four monkeys infected with Ebola within 24 hours. Two of the four monkeys that took the drug within 48 hours of contracting the disease survived and one untreated monkey died within five days of being infected with Ebola.

Brantly was flown to the U.S. and taken to Emory University Hospital on Saturday, where he will continue receiving treatment. Writebol is expected to be flown to the U.S. for treatment on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

They both served on the same mission team in Liberia tasked with treating Ebola victims.

No cure exists for Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever and kills at least 60 percent of the people who contract it in Africa, the AP noted.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control issued the agency’s most serious travel alert, a Level 3 Warning, and advised people in the U.S. not to travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia amid an outbreak of the deadly disease.

A U.S.-Africa summit in Washington this week, which will bring more than 50 heads of state has also sparked new worries about the virus spreading.

President Obama said last week that the U.S. was taking precautions and summit attendees would get screenings both in their home countries and here.

Tags Ebola Ebola virus disease Medicine Samaritan's Purse Tropical diseases

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