(CNN) – Two American missionary workers infected with the deadly Ebola virus were given an experimental drug that seems to have saved their lives.
Dr. Kent Brantly was given the medication, ZMapp, shortly after telling his doctors he thought he would die, according to a source familiar with his case. Within an hour, doctors say his symptoms — labored breathing and a widespread rash — dramatically improved. Nancy Writebol, another missionary working with Samaritan’s Purse, received two doses of the medication and has also shown significant improvement, sources say.
As there is no proven treatment and no vaccine for Ebola, this experimental drug is raising lots of questions.
1. Who makes the drug?
The drug was developed by the biotech firm Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which is based in San Diego. The company was founded in 2003 “to develop novel pharmaceuticals for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases, focusing on unmet needs in global health and biodefense,” according to its website.
Mapp Biopharmaceutical has been working with the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an arm of the military responsible for countering weapons of mass destruction, to develop an Ebola treatment for several years.
2. Are there other experimental Ebola drugs out there?
Yes. In March, the NIH awarded a five-year, $28 million grant to establish a collaboration between researchers from 15 institutions who were working to fight Ebola.
“A whole menu of antibodies have been identified as potentially therapeutic, and researchers are eager to figure out which combinations are most effective and why,” a news release about the grant said…
Skipping question 3,4,5,6,7,8 to question 9…
9. Would this drug stop the Ebola epidemic?
If it were widely available, it certainly couldn’t hurt. An effective Ebola drug could help doctors treat the deadly virus, which is killing about 60% of the people infected in West Africa. But a vaccine would be a much more effective tool in stopping this, and future, epidemics.
Vaccines are given to healthy people to prevent them from ever becoming infected. One challenge with Ebola, experts say, is that companies don’t believe they could make much money from developing a vaccine, so few companies show interest.
CNN’s Jen Christensen contributed to this story.
For the other questions visit the CNN link