Three separate research projects will begin at treatment centers in Guinea and Liberia to find a treatment for the Ebola virus, which has killed over 5,000 people so far, mostly in West Africa. The centers where the trials will be held are run by Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, a medical charity that has been helping treat Ebola patients in the region, and will be assisted by the World Health Organization, or WHO, and other health care authorities.
Trials for brincidofovir, which is made by U.S.-based Chimerix, and favipiravir or Avigan from Japan's Fujifilm, will be tested on several patients who have given informed consent. Both the drugs were shortlisted out of a list of potential Ebola drugs drawn up by the WHO. A treatment that involves the use of blood plasma from Ebola survivors will also be tested. The initial report from the trials, which begin in December, could be ready by February 2015.
“This is an unprecedented international partnership which represents hope for patients to finally get a real treatment against a disease that today kills between 50 and 80% of those infected,” Dr. Annick Antierens, an MSF official, said in a statement released by the company on Thursday.
The trials would be led by Britain's University of Oxford in Liberia, and in Guinea by the Netherlands based Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.
MSF also urged the drug makers to increase production to ensure there was no shortfall during the trial period.
“We need to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that these therapies will be the miracle cure,” Antierens said, in the MSF statement, adding: “But we need to do all we can to try the products available today to increase the chances of finding an effective treatment against Ebola.”