Canadian scientists discover hepatitis drug slashes Ebola death rate in possible breakthrough


Canadian scientists discover hepatitis drug slashes Ebola death rate in possible breakthrough
  1. Canadian scientists discover hepatitis drug slashes Ebola death rate in possible breakthrough
    canada.com
    Two thirds of Ebola patients given Interferon were alive after 21 days, compared to 19% of untreated patents, study found. No treatment currently exists for the…
    Health
 

Red Cross workers remove the body of an Ebola victim in Guinea, where a Canadian study found that the drug Interferon may slash Ebola's death rate.

Canadian researchers have made another possible breakthrough in the battle against one of the world’s most-feared infections, finding that a drug already used for other diseases may slash Ebola’s deadly toll.

No treatment currently exists for the virus, which tore through three African countries in 2014 and 2015, killing 11,000 people in its worst-ever outbreak. The mortality rate for those infected was a fearsome 60 per cent.

Interferon Beta-1a is used to treat chronic hepatitis B and C, and is sometimes administered to people with multiple sclerosis. Scientists led by Dr. Eleanor Fish of the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute first did lab experiments that suggested the drug was an effective weapon against Ebola. Then, in Guinea, they administered the drug to nine patients and compared the results to 21 similar, previously treated Ebola-sufferers who received the standard “supportive” care — measures like rehydration designed to address the virus’s symptoms.

After 21 days, 67 per cent of the Interferon-treated Ebola patients were still alive, compared to just 19 per cent of the others, according to a study just published in the journal PLOS One.

The researchers also concluded that the virus had been cleared more rapidly from the blood of patients getting Interferon, and that symptoms like abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea cleared up sooner.

They caution the results are not definitive. The trial was small and had only one branch — for patients receiving Interferon — with the comparison subjects selected after the fact, rather than being randomly enrolled in the study.

But the findings are promising enough to warrant further investigation, the paper says, especially since nothing else exists for treating patients.

Interferons are a family of naturally occurring proteins, produced in response to viral attack. In drug form and with certain diseases, they curb infection by preventing the virus from entering target cells and blocking different stages of viral replication. B…

Canadian scientists discover hepatitis drug slashes Ebola death rate in possible breakthrough
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