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Experimental Drug Stops Ebola-like Infection

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the side-effects-may-include-spontaneous-combustion dept.

Medicine 53

sciencehabit writes: An experimental treatment against an Ebola-related virus can protect monkeys even when given up to 3 days after infection, the point at which they show the first signs of disease. The virus, known as Marburg, causes severe hemorrhagic fever—vomiting, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. In one outbreak, it killed 90% of people it infected. There are no proven treatments or vaccines against it. The new results raise hopes that the treatment might be useful for human patients even if they don't receive it until well after infection. The company that makes the compound, Tekmira, based in Burnaby, Canada, has started a human safety trial of a related drug to treat Ebola virus disease, and researchers hope that it, too, might offer protection even after a patient has started to feel ill. In other Ebola news, the two American aid workers who were infected with the virus while in Liberia have now recovered and been released from the hospital.

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Needs to be effective after death (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721675)

else it will spread what with all the necromancy going on over there.

Re: Needs to be effective after death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721709)

After death??! ZOMBIES!!!

Re: Needs to be effective after death (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721873)

Dr. Mbogo approves

Nothing like spreading around a little cure. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721705)

for a disease created by the illuminati corporate congress

So? Old news. (5, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 4 months ago | (#47721721)

Success in a test tube and/or monkeys doesn't mean much as far as hope for a drug viable for humans. After all, the trials for Tekmira's drug are on hold by the FDA due to safety concerns ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho... [cbsnews.com] ).

Also, Tekmira is NOT the company that manufactured the drug used to treat Dr. Brantly and his coworker - that was Mapp Pharmaceutical's ZMapp

Re:So? Old news. (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47721807)

Shhh. It's a recently completed study and it's "topical". That's better than most science news manages.

Re:So? Old news. (2)

laie_techie (883464) | about 4 months ago | (#47721881)

Success in a test tube and/or monkeys doesn't mean much as far as hope for a drug viable for humans. After all, the trials for Tekmira's drug are on hold by the FDA due to safety concerns ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho... [cbsnews.com] ).

I don't know how to ethically do human trials for this. With monkeys, they infect them with the virus, then give the vaccine and see if the animal develops symptoms. Would we knowingly and purposefully infect humans with Ebola? Or are there enough people out there who have been exposed within three days and are as of yet symptom free? The particular strain of Ebola they tested with has a mortality rate of 90% - too high to responsibly give someone.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about 4 months ago | (#47721939)

Would we knowingly and purposefully infect humans with Ebola?

This depends only on three factors:
1. Skin colour
2. The expected profit
3. The expectation to get away with it

Re:So? Old news. (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 4 months ago | (#47722035)

All we need is for white people to be at risk and the investment will be there:

http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

Re:So? Old news. (1)

pesho (843750) | about 4 months ago | (#47722165)

The "drug" is based on siRNA which means that it has to be exactly matched to the virus RNA sequence, it uses a sophisticated delivery system (liposomes I gather) and needs storage infrastructure (deep freezers capable of maintaining -80C for long term storage). Considering all of the above, it is a safe bet that mostly rich white people can afford the luxury.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about 4 months ago | (#47722385)

The "drug" is based on siRNA which means that it has to be exactly matched to the virus RNA sequence, it uses a sophisticated delivery system (liposomes I gather) and needs storage infrastructure (deep freezers capable of maintaining -80C for long term storage). Considering all of the above, it is a safe bet that mostly rich white people can afford the luxury.

So, in other words, we haven't found a cure yet.

At all.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47723193)

So, in other words, we haven't found a cure yet. Correct, strictly speaking it is not a "cure".

It interferes with the assembly of the final virus, that means the transport mechanisms moving virus particles around get blocked by those siRNA particles.

Imagine it as a bus which is full with siRNA, so the "bad guys" who like to jump on it can not get into it.

Regarding prices as our parent complains, that technology is not really that expensive (to use and cure). However the development likely was.

Re:So? Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47724507)

Imagine it as a bus which is full with siRNA, so the "bad guys" who like to jump on it can not get into it.

I'm still a little lost. Can you change it from a bus analogy to a car analogy?

Re:So? Old news. (1)

laie_techie (883464) | about 4 months ago | (#47759031)

All we need is for white people to be at risk and the investment will be there:

http://www.theonion.com/articl... [theonion.com]

Being White doesn't cut it; you need to be rich. BTW, why don't people give rich Blacks as much grief as they give rich Whites?

Re:So? Old news. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 months ago | (#47722005)

> Or are there enough people out there who have been exposed within three days and are as of yet symptom free?

Well that number seems to be increasing every day. So that is a positive um right?

Actually I think the way you do it is with a double blind in a population that is already likely to be exposed, or likely to be exposed soon.... then watch for whether the people vaccinated with the real deal vs the placbo get infected at higher rates.

Since you don't even know if it works, its not like you are actually withholding treatement on those with the placebo, and its a population you expect to have some cases anyway. So if it works, it could protect some of the population and allow for others.... if it doesn't work, any new risks they are exposed to are only from the drug itself, as long as you can weigh that against the risk and outcomes of ebola infection.....

Essentially I think the only viable population is medical professionals themselves who work with Ebola patients, and family of patients who just recently brought their family member to the clinic. That is mostly because any cases that are found have to be isolates asap and so there is no possibility for any real control group outside the clinics/centers.

Re:So? Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47722095)

Medical trials have two stages. First you give the drug to healthy people to determine if there are any side effects. Then you give the drug to unhealthy people and see if it makes their condition better (actually, it's more complicated than this, and there are stages within those stages, and I'm generalizing wildly but you get the idea.)

So, you do the first stage first and determine the health risks. Assuming it's safe-ish (again, generalizing) you use it to treat ebola cases.

Of course, here's the real ethical minefield. Do you do double blind trials (realistically the only way to know if the drug truly works) despite knowing you're giving 50% of the infected no treatment what-so-ever?

Re:So? Old news. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47722365)

Success in a test tube and/or monkeys doesn't mean much as far as hope for a drug viable for humans. After all, the trials for Tekmira's drug are on hold by the FDA due to safety concerns ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ho... [cbsnews.com] ).

I don't know how to ethically do human trials for this. With monkeys, they infect them with the virus, then give the vaccine and see if the animal develops symptoms. Would we knowingly and purposefully infect humans with Ebola? Or are there enough people out there who have been exposed within three days and are as of yet symptom free? The particular strain of Ebola they tested with has a mortality rate of 90% - too high to responsibly give someone.

Then I'd say they need to move their ass and get down to Liberia where we likely have plenty of test subjects.

And ethics have little to do with it when you're facing a 90% mortality rate. Anyone with sense enough would likely sign up for the drug no questions asked if they tested positive for Ebola.

Re:So? Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721983)

ummm... this sounds awful sciency and hurts my head to think about. Wouldn't it just be easier to listen to Donald Trump and just ban anything we fear/do not understand?

Re:So? Old news. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47722167)

In your case it would help if you simply had read the article. So you had figured how the drug actually works.
And hence had not written that nonsense.
The drug is based on siRNA, which works the exact same way in every warm blooded animal/human. So your "fear" (comment?) it might not work in humans is moot.

Also, Tekmira is NOT the company that manufactured the drug used to treat Dr. Brantly and his coworker - that was Mapp Pharmaceutical's ZMapp

That is correct.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47724055)

So your "fear" (comment?) it might not work in humans is moot.

Unless of course, it doesn't work in humans. Then his "fear" is somewhat appropriate.

Just because two organisms have something in common with respect to this drug doesn't mean that their differences won't matter.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47724583)

Just because two organisms have something in common with respect to this drug doesn't mean that their differences won't matter.
It is not a 'drug'.
It is a short 20 - 25 bases long RNA strand. (You know what DNA and RNA is?)
That works exactly the same in every life form based on cells with a nucleus. No idea how the exact english name for it is, as I don't know the proper spelling of the german/latin word and can mot google it. Something like Eukariots.

So: there are no differences that 'could matter'. Can be easy read up and googled, but as we saw in the other discussion, you are definitely not a science guy.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 3 months ago | (#47725015)

It is not a 'drug'.
It is a short 20 - 25 bases long RNA strand. (You know what DNA and RNA is?)

Let's actually look at the definition of drug [google.com] :

a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body

Sure, we could come up with a new phrase every time we do anything slightly differently, but there's no point to it. It just makes communication overly complex.

That works exactly the same in every life form based on cells with a nucleus. No idea how the exact english name for it is, as I don't know the proper spelling of the german/latin word and can mot google it. Something like Eukariots.

The human body is not a cell nucleus. For example, if this drug triggers an allergy response, then you have both harm and the destruction of the drug before it can do something useful.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47725351)

Well, arguing with you makes no sense.

First it is not a drug but a kind of "gene therapy" (actually it is not, but it is much closer than a 'drug')

The human body is not a cell nucleus. For example, if this drug triggers an allergy response, then you have both harm and the destruction of the drug before it can do something useful.

Good point, now you made perfectly clear why the treatment we are talking about: is not a drug.
And you emphasize that you are not interested in science, otherwise you would not write such nonsense.

Hint: reading up about how this stuff works is less then 8h, you can read every day 1h and after a week you perhaps know more than me about DNA/RNA, mRNA, siRMA etc.

But unless you invest at least some basic "reading up" you simply don't qualify for topics like this.

For example, if this drug triggers an allergy response how should an siRNA particle trigger an allergic response? Hu? Science Fiction? Note: it is not a drug, regardless how retarded you like to define it.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47726105)

how should an siRNA particle trigger an allergic response?

By the same mechanisms any other molecule triggers an allergy response.

Re:So? Old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47800581)

As someone who actually does gene therapy, I'd like to make a few points here. First, legally speaking (in both the US and the EU), it is a drug. It's not a small molecule drug like you're used to, but it is a drug, as is Glybera, the only approved gene therapy in the Western Hemisphere (although not a very good one). siRNA treatment is not gene therapy, but I'll grant you that it's closer than small molecules are.

Now, for the technical aspects, there are some reasons why siRNA might work in mice or non-human primates (NHPs) but not humans. Extra non-endogenous RNA of any sort can trigger an immune response, although it's true that we normally don't see that with siRNA - it's not unheard-of though. Furthermore, anything odd (like exogenous RNA) can be recognized as dangerous if the body is already responding to something - in this case, Ebola. That's why a relatively high proportion of the Western population has neutralizing antibodies against AAV - a small virus that needs help from other viruses to replicate. By itself, it can't replicate and doesn't set off the immune system. If there is a HSV or adenovirus infection in the same cells that have AAV, however, the body thinks AAV is dangerous and forms antibodies.
In addition, the human siRNA processing complexes - notably Dicer, though we're finding out now that there are more non-canonical ones - differ from NHP and mouse versions. It's possible that their siRNA-based drug won't load onto the human Dicer complex as well. It's also possible that humans have a protein that shares the target sequence(s) in Ebola (remember siRNA goes after very short sequences, so off-target effects are quite common); this might not apply to mice or NHPs.

Overall, human testing needs to be done, but it's more likely to work than other therapies that are just tested in animals. So both of you are partly correct.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

Chikungunya (2998457) | about 4 months ago | (#47725595)

Even if siRNA works by the same mechanism in all vertebrate cells there are many steps were a difference between species can make it a failed treatment. For example there are many RNA viruses that can encapsulate replication machinery in certain types of cells, that helps avoiding innate immunity mechanism, if this happens in target cells in humans (may not be the same in monkeys) then the encapsulation would interrupt also the siRNA binding to viral RNA making it useless. also there is a posibility of interference of the siRNA against normal human mRNA important for cell life cycle hence toxicity and so on. Even the lipid nanoparticles could work less efficiently in the human body (sequestration by non target cells, lack of proper integration with cell membranes, activation of unusual immune responses not seen in 20 monkeys but maybe fatal in a fair percentage of humans, etc.)

Yes, it is most likely that the treatment can be useful according to their results until now, but there are literally hundreds of reasons why this could be not the case, it would not be the first nor the last time when a perfect treatment for monkeys proved to be useless in humans.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47722645)

It's another step in trial.

Re:So? Old news. (1)

dentin (2175) | about 4 months ago | (#47731401)

The FDA has -safety concerns- testing a drug that might be effective against a -contagious disease with a 90% fatality rate-?

Somebody's priorities are in the wrong order.

Side effects of the Canadian drug.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721779)

May include "sleeplessness, resistance to cold weather effects, dry mouth, and a hankering for maple syrup."

Zombie-like symptoms may arise for patients craving a trip to Tim's for a double-double...

Re:Side effects of the Canadian drug.. (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 4 months ago | (#47721997)

May include "sleeplessness, resistance to cold weather effects, dry mouth, and a hankering for maple syrup."

Zombie-like symptoms may arise for patients craving a trip to Tim's for a double-double...

Sounds like one of the potions from Skyrim...

resistance to cold: +50%, stamina: -5%, cure disease: +100%, maple syrup addiction: +500%

mmmmmm... maple syrup.....

Re:Side effects of the Canadian drug.. (1)

peragrin (659227) | about 4 months ago | (#47722477)

Hmm should the FDA relabel foods and drugs that way?
Instead of May cause drowsiness. +10% chance of drowsiness. -7% to reaction time.
+10% chance of delusions

On Tequilla 50% chance of hangover 12 hours later.

Re:Side effects of the Canadian drug.. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47722661)

On Tequilla 50% chance of hangover 12 hours later, 25% chance of Black eye, 30% chance of break up, 17% chance waking with a stranger

Contrary to popular belief (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721781)

We have a lot of monkeys in British Columbia Canada. Especially Surrey and Richmond.

Other Treatments (1)

onproton (3434437) | about 4 months ago | (#47721925)

I'm assuming that the two U.S. aid workers were not treated with this - is anyone exploring a broader application of whatever was used in their cases?

Re:Other Treatments (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47722395)

Wasn't that drug also given to the Spanish guy who died?

Given this Ebola variant seems to have about a 50% death rate, there's a 25% chance two people would survive anyway. It needs to be given to a lot more people to determine how well it really works.

The Marburg virus is not Ebola (5, Informative)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47721957)

Strictly speaking it is a complete different virus that is only based on similar construction principles (Filoviridae) *and* unfortunately has similar symptoms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

TE4... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47721999)

bloc in order to OF AMERICA irc go Of the minutiae Product, BSD's

E1403 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47722085)

Experimental... Ya Right...

Here's What Bugs Me (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47722163)

I saw the news conference of the doctor who was cured of Ebola and it's a great example of how religion twists the mind. The guy stood there in front of the cameras and spent ages thanking God for his recovery, then gave a long description of how people who had prayed for him also helped. Right at the end the doctors who had done the ACTUAL WORK keeping him alive got a passing mention.

Crazy.

Re:Here's What Bugs Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47722627)

True, I thought he was truly disrespecting and being outright ungracious for all the hard work, ingenuity and money that went into saving his life.

Re:Here's What Bugs Me (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47723271)

Yeah, and the nerve of him using his talents and going to help all those people in the name of his god. Just trying to make others look bad.

Re:Here's What Bugs Me (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47723499)

I too am a little incensed when I hear people thank God for saving them from their illness. Not out of any particular dislike for religion, but for the fact that if you believe God is responsible you ought to accept that He is also the guilty party when you were infected in the first place. A little cognitive dissonance goes a long way.

Re:Here's What Bugs Me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47725477)

It's very simple. Anything that befalls on people is just a game from god (or devil ) to test the resolve of their belief.
So you will never here a "Why god, Why ?" from the true believers. They consider all this shit just a trial for the limited amount of people due to be "saved" during the rapture.
Talk with one of them. Your head will hurt for days,

God is an asshole (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47724285)

And if God weren't such an asshole, he wouldn't have infected you in the first place. Or are the bad things that happen strictly the devil's fault and the good things all about god?

Re:Here's What Bugs Me (2)

Issarlk (1429361) | about 4 months ago | (#47726787)

It can be easilly put to the test. Among the next missionaries would catch ebola, 50% should refuse the ZMap treatment and get to be given an unique chance to show the world that god and prayer are what heal them. Surelly a true believer will be overjoyed by the idea, lots of people would be convinced and convert and be saved by our lord Jesus Christ.

Re:Here's What Bugs Me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47731099)

It shouldn't really come as a surprise. He was over there as a religious missionary.

Just take solace in the likelihood that he'd have died along with the rest without those doctors he glossed over.

So they are best qualified . . . (2)

wirehead_rick (308391) | about 4 months ago | (#47722911)

to go back to Africa and help fight the outbreak.

Since they are now immune and being health care professionals they are uniquely qualified to handle the treatment of Ebola patients without fear of dying from it.

Re:So they are best qualified . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47723093)

For the period of time in which the ebola everyone is getting is the same ebola they got.

Any idea how long their immunity is likely to last? I've not seen anything really clear about it.

Re:So they are best qualified . . . (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47723227)

You don't get immune with the new treatments. They are not vaccines. They are "medicine". Just like Quinine was given against Malaria. (And strictly speaking: vaccines don't cure anyway ... giving an ordinary vaccine when you are already ill does not help, in fact it makes things worse)

Um.. not wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47723257)

They are married. They have wives.

The carry the virus in bodily emissions for up to 61 days after infection.
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

We should watch and see if their wives get infected.

Re:Um.. not wise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47723375)

Note: the symptoms take 2 to 21 days to show up, so it may take around a month to determine if humans have successfully transplanted Ebola to the Americas.

More fraud from animal torturers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47724011)

It's all pharmaceutical fraud, the idiotic public will believe it, the animal torturers (look it up on Youtube) will get paid a fortune, Marburg virus is not Ebola, monkeys are not humans, etc.

Re:More fraud from animal torturers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47724335)

Troll fail.
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