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Ebola treatment starts at ELWA3

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A clinical trial for a possible cure for the Ebola Virus disease has begun at ELWA 3, the MSF’s Ebola Management Centre in Paynesville, suburb of Monrovia. The January 1, 2015 test was led by Oxford University from the United Kingdom, and funded by the Wellcome Trust to determine if the anti viral drug brincidofovir is an effective treatment for Ebola. 

According to a press statement, taking part in the trial is completely voluntary and the trial is designed without a control group or group that does not receive the medication in order to include as many Ebola positive patients as possible.

At the same time, MSF hopes that brincidofovir might reduce the death rate from Ebola, but stresses that it is not a miracle cure and hasn’t been established whether it will help patients survive the virus.

Dr. Jake Dunning said that the drug, brincidofovir, will not be available in pharmacies or medicine stores for sale, but only under the specific conditions of the trial at ELWA 3.   “We know that is has been taken safely by over 1000 people in clinical trials for other viral infections and we know that it has been shown to be effective in laboratory tests that use Ebola infected cells”, he noted.

Meanwhile, all new patients confirmed to be Ebola positive thru blood test at the ELWA 3 will be informed about the trial and can decide whether they would like to participate or not. 

Those who do not wish to be given the new treatment will receive the same standard supportive care as those who do. Standard treatment includes oral and IV rehydration therapy, anti-malarial treatment, antibiotics, and specific treatment for symptoms of Ebola, like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. 

The release said the drug will not offer any benefit to people who do not have Ebola and it will only be given to those with confirmed cases.  “With every possible treatment comes hope, and we are very excited that we may be able to help our patients beyond symptom management and routine supportive treatments like IV fluid therapy” says MSF medical coordinator, Brett Adamson.

He also said that the treatment, even if shown to be effective, will not end the epidemic, and stressed that to continue pushing case numbers down to zero, the public should remember to keep washing hands, avoid touching people, and seek help when someone becomes sick or dies. “Ebola has not gone away and we all have a lot of work still to do”, Brett adds.

The trial is running with the approval of the Liberian Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), and ethics committees from the University of Liberia, MSF and Oxford University. It is expected that the first results will be available in February 2015.

MSF has been responding to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia since July 2014. Currently, the organization has some 1400 national and international staff on the ground in Liberia and has treated more that 1600 Liberians confirmed to be Ebola positive.  

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