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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:58 pm 
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VIDEO at link below
(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.
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.
Why isn't there an Ebola vaccine? Ebola transport team speaks to CNN West African Ebola epidemic Second Ebola patient heading to U.S. Can camera help detect Ebola?
Mapp Biopharmaceutical has been working with the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an arm of the military responsible for weapons of mass destruction, to develop an Ebola treatment for several years.
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.
Tekmira, a Vancouver-based company that has a $140 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop an Ebola drug, began Phase 1 trials with its drug in January. But the FDA recently halted the trial, asking for more information.
At least one potential Ebola vaccine has been tested in healthy human volunteers, according to Thomas Geisbert, a leading researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch. And last week, the NIH announced a safety trial of another Ebola vaccine will start as early as September.
How does ZMapp work?
Antibodies are proteins used by the immune system to mark and destroy foreign, or harmful, cells. A monoclonal antibody is similar, except it's engineered in a lab so it will attach to specific parts of a dangerous cell, according to the Mayo Clinic, mimicking your immune system's natural response. Monoclonal antibodies are used to treat many different types of conditions.
This medicine is a three-mouse monoclonal antibody, meaning that mice were exposed to fragments of the Ebola virus and then the antibodies generated within the mice's blood were harvested to create the medicine.
Why did American missionary workers get the drug?
Many have asked why these two workers received the experimental drug when so many -- around 1,600 -- others in West Africa also have the virus.
Samaritan's Purse reached out to an NIH scientist who was on the ground in West Africa, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "The scientist was able to informally answer some questions and referred them to appropriate company contacts to pursue their interest in obtaining experimental product," NIAID said.
The World Health Organization says it was not involved in the decision to treat Brantly and Writebol. Both patients had to give consent to receive the drug, knowing it had never been tested in humans before.
The process by which the medication was made available to the American patients may have fallen under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "compassionate use" regulation, which allows access to investigational drugs outside clinical trials.
Did doctors know it would work?
No. The drug had shown promise in primates, but even in those experiments, just eight monkeys received the treatment. In any case, the human immune system can react differently than primates', which is why drugs are required to undergo human clinical trials before being approved by government agencies for widespread use.
The two Americans' cases will be studied further to determine how the drug worked with their immune systems.
Will the drug be made available to other Ebola patients?
It's unclear. Doctors "cannot start using untested drugs in the middle of an outbreak, for various reasons," World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says scientists have to be careful about assuming this drug will work in other patients as it appears to have worked in Brantly.
"Having worked with administering antibodies for people for a really long time, that would be distinctly unusual," he told CNN. "As we all know in medicine ... you have to withhold judgment."
Does the company have more vials of the drug?
The company has very few doses ready for patient use, Fauci told CNN. "Apparently the company is trying to scale up, (but) it's not easy to scale up to very large number of doses."
Who paid for the drug and how much did it cost?
We don't know. Samaritan's Purse covered the cost of Brantly and Writebol's evacuations but did not pay for the drug, according to a spokesman.
When a patient gets an experimental drug, the drug company can donate the product under compassionate use. Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. might have done that in this case.
Health insurance companies typically do not pick up the tab for treatments that have not been approved by the FDA. But they would usually cover the cost of any doctor fees associated with giving the drug and any costs associated with monitoring how the drug is working.
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.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/04/healt ... -questions

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:56 pm 
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Ebola outbreak and ZMapp will be discussed tonight at 10 PM EDT.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:56 pm 
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niman wrote:
Ebola outbreak and ZMapp will be discussed tonight at 10 PM EDT.

MONDAY
Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD
Ebola Virus Upate…
The Very Latest

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:05 pm 
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Viruses and peptides
EBOV strain Kikwit 95 was produced on Vero E6 cells in complete minimal essential medium (cMEM), 2% fetal bovine serum (FBS), and 1% penicillin/streptomycin. EBOV-eGFP (enhanced green fluorescent protein) is EBOV strain Mayinga encoding the GFP reporter gene between NP and VP35 (37). Peptides (spanning EBOV, strain Kikwit 1995 GP) consisted of 15 mers with 11 amino acid overlaps. There were four peptide pools containing 42 peptides each as follows: pool 1 (amino acids 1 to 179), pool 2 (amino acids 180 to 347), pool 3 (amino acids 348 to 495), and pool 4 (amino acids 496 to 676).

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:08 pm 
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References and NotesBack to Top

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↵ P. W. Parren, T. W. Geisbert, T. Maruyama, P. B. Jahrling, D. R. Burton, Pre- and postexposure prophylaxis of Ebola virus infection in an animal model by passive transfer of a neutralizing human antibody. J. Virol. 76, 6408–6412 (2002). Abstract/FREE Full Text
↵ W. B. Oswald, T. W. Geisbert, K. J. Davis, J. B. Geisbert, N. J. Sullivan, P. B. Jahrling, P. W. Parren, D. R. Burton, Neutralizing antibody fails to impact the course of Ebola virus infection in monkeys. PLoS Pathog. 3, e9 (2007). CrossRefMedlineGoogle Scholar
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S. Baize, E. M. Leroy, M. C. Georges-Courbot, M. Capron, J. Lansoud-Soukate, P. Debré, S. P. Fisher-Hoch, J. B. McCormick, A. J. Georges, Defective humoral responses and extensive intravascular apoptosis are associated with fatal outcome in Ebola virus-infected patients. Nat. Med. 5, 423–426 (1999). CrossRefMedlineWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar
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↵ X. Qiu, J. B. Alimonti, P. L. Melito, L. Fernando, U. Stroher, S. M. Jones, Characterization of Zaire ebolavirus glycoprotein-specific monoclonal antibodies. Clin. Immunol. 141, 218–227 (2011). CrossRefMedlineGoogle Scholar
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↵ I. V. Borisevich, V. V. Mikhaĭlov, V. P. Krasnianskiĭ, V. N. Gradoboev, E. V. Lebedinskaia, N. V. Potryvaeva, G. D. Timan’kova, Development and study of the properties of immunoglobulin against Ebola fever. Vopr. Virusol. 40, 270–273 (1995). MedlineWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar
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↵ N. M. Kudoyarova-Zubavichene, N. N. Sergeyev, A. A. Chepurnov, S. V. Netesov, Preparation and use of hyperimmune serum for prophylaxis and therapy of Ebola virus infections. J. Infect. Dis. 179 (Suppl. 1), S218–S223 (1999). Abstract/FREE Full Text
↵ X. Qiu, L. Fernando, S. M. Jones, J. B. Alimonti, Protective immunodominant Zaire Ebolavirus glycoprotein epitope in mice. J. Bioterr. Biodef. S1, 006 (2011). Google Scholar
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↵ N. J. Sullivan, L. Hensley, C. Asiedu, T. W. Geisbert, D. Stanley, J. Johnson, A. Honko, G. Olinger, M. Bailey, J. B. Geisbert, K. A. Reimann, S. Bao, S. Rao, M. Roederer, P. B. Jahrling, R. A. Koup, G. J. Nabel, CD8+ cellular immunity mediates rAd5 vaccine protection against Ebola virus infection of nonhuman primates. Nat. Med. 17, 1128–1131 (2011). CrossRefMedlineGoogle Scholar
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↵ K. N. Bossart, T. W. Geisbert, H. Feldmann, Z. Zhu, F. Feldmann, J. B. Geisbert, L. Yan, Y. R. Feng, D. Brining, D. Scott, Y. Wang, A. S. Dimitrov, J. Callison, Y. P. Chan, A. C. Hickey, D. S. Dimitrov, C. C. Broder, B. Rockx, A neutralizing human monoclonal antibody protects African green monkeys from Hendra virus challenge. Sci. Transl. Med. 3, 105ra103 (2011). Abstract/FREE Full Text
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↵ H. Ebihara, S. Theriault, G. Neumann, J. B. Alimonti, J. B. Geisbert, L. E. Hensley, A. Groseth, S. M. Jones, T. W. Geisbert, Y. Kawaoka, H. Feldmann, In vitro and in vivo characterization of recombinant Ebola viruses expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein. J. Infect. Dis. 196 (Suppl. 2), S313–S322 (2007). Abstract/FREE Full Text
Acknowledgments: We thank S. Jones and J. Gren for technical assistance with the animals and sample processing. Funding: This work was supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Author contributions: X.Q. generated the antibodies, conducted and designed the experiments, and wrote the paper. J.A. and J.B.A. conducted the experiments and wrote the paper. G.W., S.P., A.B., and J.E.S. conducted the experiments. T.C. and C.R.C. produced large quantities of the antibody. F.P. provided scientific and experimental support. G.P.K. conducted and designed the experiments and wrote the paper. Competing interests: Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada holds a patent on the monoclonal antibodies 2G4, 4G7, and 1H3, PCT/CA2009/000070, “Monoclonal antibodies for Ebola and Marburg viruses.” The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:11 pm 
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Experimental Ebola drug based on research discoveries from Canada's national lab
HELEN BRANSWELL / THE CANADIAN PRESS
AUGUST 4, 2014 05:46 PM

Friday, Sept. 28, 2007. The experimental Ebola drug given to two American aid workers is based on years of research done at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, WHO, Christopher Black, HO
TORONTO - The experimental Ebola drug given to two American aid workers is based on years of research done at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

The drug is a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies, disease fighting proteins that target a specific part of an invading virus.

Sources have told The Canadian Press that two of the three monoclonal antibodies in the drug were designed at the Winnipeg laboratory.

The work was done under the leadership of Dr. Gary Kobinger who heads the special pathogens research program at the national lab.

The Public Health Agency of Canada declined to comment Monday on the use of the drug or Canada's role in its development.

The third monoclonal antibody in the product was developed by a U.S. government laboratory.

Rights to the Canadian-designed monoclonal antibodies have been acquired by a U.S. company called Leaf Biopharmaceutical of San Diego, Calif.

The company is partnered with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, also of San Diego, which makes the experimental therapy, called ZMapp.

Mapp Biopharma provided the drug for the treatment of Dr. Kent Brantly, who works with the relief organization Samaritan's Purse, and Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who works with the organization Service in Mission or SIM.

The two were infected at an Ebola treatment centre in Liberia, one of four countries battling this outbreak. The other three are Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The drug had never been tested in humans before it was given to Brantly and Writebol, but had shown favourable results when given to non-human primates infected with Ebola Zaire, the strain of the virus responsible for this outbreak.

The World Health Organization said Monday that as of Aug. 1, there have been 1,603 cases since the outbreak was first detected in early March, and 887 deaths.

Follow @HelenBranswell on Twitter.

- See more at: http://www.comoxvalleyecho.com/news/exp ... Kllew.dpuf

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:25 pm 
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niman wrote:
niman wrote:
Ebola outbreak and ZMapp will be discussed tonight at 10 PM EDT.

MONDAY
Dr. Henry L. Niman, PhD
Ebola Virus Upate…
The Very Latest

http://www.renseradio.com/listenlive.htm

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:41 pm 
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ZMappTM Information Sheet
ZMappTM is the result of a collaboration between Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc. and LeafBio (San Diego, CA), Defyrus Inc. (Toronto, Canada), the U.S. government and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
ZMappTM is composed of three “humanized” monoclonal antibodies manufactured in plants, specifically Nicotiana. It is an optimized cocktail combining the best components of MB-003 (Mapp) and ZMAb (Defyrus/PHAC).
ZMappTM was first identified as a drug candidate in January 2014 and has not yet been evaluated for safety in humans. As such, very little of the drug is currently available.
Any decision to use an experimental drug in a patient would be a decision made by the treating physician under the regulatory guidelines of the FDA.
Mapp and its partners are cooperating with appropriate government agencies to increase production as quickly as possible.

http://www.mappbio.com/zmapinfo.pdf

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:19 am 
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Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers
By Robert Langreth, Caroline Chen, James Nash and John Lauerman Aug 4, 2014 10:52 PM ET 14 Comments Email Print


The tobacco plants are then infected with this new artificial virus, he said.

A tiny San Diego-based company provided an experimental Ebola treatment for two Americans infected with the deadly virus in Liberia. The biotechnology drug, produced with tobacco plants, appears to be working.

In an unusual twist of expedited drug access, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which has nine employees, released its experimental ZMapp drug, until now only tested on infected animals, for the two health workers. Kentucky BioProcessing LLC, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), manufactures the treatment for Mapp from tobacco plants.

The first patient, Kent Brantly, a doctor, was flown from Liberia to Atlanta on Aug. 2, and is receiving treatment at Emory University Hospital. Nancy Writebol, an aid worker, is scheduled to arrive in Atlanta today and will be treated at the same hospital, according to the charity group she works with. Both are improving, according to relatives and supporters.

Each patient received at least one dose of ZMapp in Liberia before coming to the U.S., according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Citing unnamed sources, CNN yesterday reported that the drug used for the treatment is Mapp’s.

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola, spread through direct contact with body fluids such as blood and urine, has sickened 1,603 people in West Africa, killing 887, according to the World Health Organization. The disease, first reported in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, can cause bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose.

The Deadliest Disease on Earth

The virus has historically killed as many as 90 percent of those who contract it. The current outbreak has a fatality rate of about 60 percent, probably because of early treatment efforts, officials have said.

There is no cure for Ebola, although several companies -- including Mapp -- are working on drug candidates that are undergoing animal testing. Normally, patients are given fluids, blood transfusions and antibiotics with the hope their immune systems can fight off Ebola’s onslaught.

The two scientists behind Mapp, President Larry Zeitlin and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Whaley, “are both brilliant,” said Charles Arntzen, a plant biotechnology expert at Arizona State University who collaborated with the two researchers years ago. “They are very, very bright guys and free spirits.”

The antibody work came out of research projects funded more than a decade ago by the U.S. Army to develop treatments and vaccines against potential bio-warfare agents, such as the Ebola virus, Arntzen said in a telephone interview.

Tobacco Plant

The tobacco plant production system was developed because it was a method that could produce antibodies rapidly in the event of an emergency, he said.

To produce therapeutic proteins inside a tobacco plant, genes for the desired antibodies are fused to genes for a natural tobacco virus, said Arntzen. The tobacco plants are then infected with this new artificial virus, he said.

“The infection results in the production of antibodies inside the plant,” Arntzen said. The plant is eventually ground up and the antibody is extracted, he said. The whole process takes a matter of weeks.

When confronted by reporters about the Ebola infections in Liberia and subsequent treatments, Whaley said he needed to get up to speed on the developing events.

“This is all new to me,” said Whaley, who was dressed in shorts, a well-worn T-shirt and flip-flops while addressing reporters’ questions outside the company’s offices in a San Diego business park. “I just don’t want to give out any inaccurate information, that’s all.”

Antibody Cocktail

Mapp’s drug is being developed with Toronto-based Defyrus Inc., which has six employees, according to Defyrus CEO Jeff Turner. ZMapp is a “cocktail” of monoclonal antibodies that help the immune system attack the virus.

Monoclonal antibodies designed to fight and block specific proteins can stop the virus from latching onto and entering cells, said Heinz Feldmann, chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Laboratory of Virology in Hamilton, Montana.

The key is to find antibodies that can prevent viral infection, and to attack several points on the virus so that mutants won’t “escape” treatment, he said.

“What you want is a cocktail of antibodies that target different domains on the virus so escape is less likely in treatment,” he said in a telephone interview. Feldmann said he hasn’t been involved in developing treatments.

ZMapp’s predecessor, MB-003, protected three of seven rhesus macaques in a study run in 2013 by Mapp and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

Ethical Questions

Ebola and virology experts believe the use of the Mapp drug for Brantly and Writebol is unusual in the annals of emergency drug treatments. While potentially saving lives, the cases raise questions about who should have the right to receive experimental drugs years before they gain FDA approval.

“There are a lot of Africans that are also dying,” Robert Garry, a virologist at Tulane University, said in a telephone interview. “If we are going to do it for the Americans then we should certainly step up our game for the Africans.”

Although no drugs to treat Ebola are approved by U.S. regulators, the Food and Drug Administration can approve an emergency application to provide access to unapproved drugs, Stephanie Yao, an FDA spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Emergency Approval

Approval for emergency drug use outside of a clinical trial can be made within 24 hours, Yao wrote. Shipment and treatment with the drug could begin even before completed written forms are submitted to the FDA, which can approve the use of an experimental treatment by telephone in an emergency.

“The FDA stands ready to work with companies and investigators treating these patients who are in dire need of treatment,” Yao said. She declined to say whether the FDA had allowed any drug to be used in the Ebola outbreak.

Erica Ollmann Saphire, a molecular biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, worked with Mapp and the other biotechnology companies to develop models of the Ebola virus and potential antibodies.

She directs a global consortium given the job of modeling the virus and the mixture of antibodies needed to defeat it. She said the drug was approved for the two American medical workers in Liberia under a compassionate-use doctrine, because it’s not even scheduled for clinical trials until next year.

Informed Consent

“I’d take it myself,” she said in an interview in her laboratory, near La Jolla. “Absolutely. I wouldn’t think twice.”

She said the American medical aid workers were in a better position to give consent to the treatment than African disease victims.

“Do you put an untested therapy in a human or do you just watch them die?” Saphire asked. “Certainly these two Americans are medically trained individuals who knew what they were getting into. They are able to give informed consent.”

Medical care of the two U.S. citizens may take two to three weeks if all goes well, Bruce Ribner, an infectious disease specialist at Emory, said in an Aug. 1 news conference.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed that Brantly and Writebol are the first Ebola patients on U.S. soil, is working with the hospital and transport company to make sure evacuation of the two patients goes safely, said Barbara Reynolds, an agency spokeswoman.

“We’re here to make sure the transportation process and the care here in the U.S. ensures there’s no spread,” Reynolds said. “It’s important to remember this is not an airborne virus, it requires close contact with body fluids. It’s minimal risk as long as the people caring for the patient use meticulous procedures.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Robert Langreth in New York at rlangreth@bloomberg.net; Caroline Chen in New York at cchen509@bloomberg.net; John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rick Schine at eschine@bloomberg.net Andrew Pollack

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-0 ... rkers.html

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:36 am 
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Experimental Ebola drug based on research from Canada’s national lab
HELEN BRANSWELL
TORONTO — The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Aug. 05 2014, 4:29 AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Aug. 05 2014, 4:35 AM EDT

Canadian research is at the heart of an experimental Ebola therapy recently given to two American aid workers infected while caring for patients in Liberia.

The unlicenced drug, called ZMapp, is made of three monoclonal antibodies, disease fighting proteins that target a specific part of an invading pathogen, in this case the Ebola Zaire virus. That is the specific strain of Ebola responsible for this outbreak.

Two of the monoclonal antibodies are the product of years of research done at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, the agency confirmed in an email late Monday.

The third was developed at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, known as USAMRIID.

“Canada is a world leader in research and we are proud of the advances made at the NML (National Microbiology Laboratory) in this area,” a spokesperson for the agency said via email Monday night.

The former head of the Winnipeg-based laboratory said he was delighted to hear that the Canadian-designed monoclonal antibodies had been used in this way.

“This is really gratifying to see the work come to fruition,” said Dr. Frank Plummer, who stepped down as the lab’s scientific director at the end of March.

“It’s a big achievement after years and years of very hard work.”

The Canadian research was done under the leadership of Dr. Gary Kobinger who heads the special pathogens research program at the national laboratory. His team had developed a cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies called ZMAb, the rights to which were recently acquired by LeafBio of San Diego, Calif.

LeafBio is collaborating with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, also of San Diego, which is the maker of ZMapp. That is the product given last week to Dr. Kent Brantly, who works with the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, and Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who works with the organization Service in Mission or SIM.

The two were infected while working at an Ebola treatment centre in Liberia. Brantly was transferred to the United States last weekend, where he was admitted to a special isolation treatment unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Writebol is also being brought back to the United States; she is to arrive at Emory on Tuesday.

Neither ZMapp nor the individual monoclonal antibodies it contains have been tested in humans, though small studies in non-human primates look very promising. It has been reported that Brantly and Writebol were warned the drug had only been tested in animals but that they were willing to try the treatment anyway.

A joint statement from Mapp Biopharmaceutical and LeafBio said ZMapp is an optimized monoclonal cocktail, incorporating the best of the Canadian and U.S.-made antibodies.

The drug is generated in tobacco plants that have been genetically engineered to produce the monoclonal antibodies. That work is done by Kentucky BioProcessing of Owensboro, KY., a subsidiary of tobacco giant Reynolds American.

A spokesman for Reynolds said within the last week Kentucky BioProcessing was asked by Emory University Hospital and Samaritan’s Purse to provide a limited amount of ZMapp to be used to treat Brantly and Writebol. David Howard said the makers were given an IND — investigational new drug — designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

He said the drug’s makers hope to begin a Phase I clinical trial later this year. That type of preliminary trial involves giving a therapy to healthy volunteers to see if it is safe for people to take, and to determine an appropriate dose. These studies are not large enough to provide proof of whether a drug works.

The Canadian lab is one of the leading research facilities globally for countermeasures for Ebola and Marburg, a related virus which also causes severe and often fatal infections.

An experimental Ebola vaccine made at the Winnipeg lab under Kobinger’s predecessor, Heinz Feldmann — now head of the virology laboratory at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Mont. — is considered the best candidate vaccine for Ebola.

Unlike other experimental Ebola vaccines, the one designed at Winnipeg appears to work if given shortly after exposure to the virus, at least in animal testing. If it can be pushed through the developmental pipeline, it could be the option of choice for researchers who risk getting infected when working on Ebola in laboratories and health-care workers who can become exposed during outbreaks.

The Winnipeg lab and a number of other facilities have been working for years to produce Ebola and Marburg interventions. But lack of funding and regulatory hurdles had prevented these experimental tools from being used in outbreaks up until now.

Still, this emergency use is unlikely to change the course of the current outbreak, which continues to infect people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and now may be moving into Nigeria. That country reported several suspect and probable cases Monday, at least two of whom are health-care workers who treated an infected man who recently travelled by plane to Nigeria from Liberia.

While there are a number of experimental therapies in development, there may be only small quantities of each available. Research laboratories and small biotech companies typically would make only what they need for research purposes. Ramping up production of a drug or a vaccine only happens when it has been licenced and the manufacturer is ready to take it to market.

The World Health Organization says that as of Aug. 1 there have been at least 1,603 cases of Ebola in this outbreak and at least 887 deaths.

Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/nat ... k=sf_globe

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