Yesterday, the World Health Organization updated the Ebola Virus Outbreak death toll. It has now increased to 887 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Over 1,600 people have now been infected with the Ebola Virus.
Since Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were sent an experimental Ebola serum in Liberia there has been much speculation as to what the Ebola treatment drug was and where it came from. Some of that information was finally revealed yesterday. The drug is made in Owensboro, Kentucky in tobacco plants at Kentucky Bioprocessing, which is a subsidiary of Reynolds American Incorporated. According to spokesman David Howard, “The plant serves like a photocopier and the drug is extracted from the plant.” The serum was made by drug maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. of San Diego and that’s where its name Zmapp comes from.
The drug had never been tested on humans before, but drastic situations call for drastic measures and the decision was made to send the drug to Dr. Brantly and Nancy Writebol. The purpose of Zmapp is to boost the immune system’s efforts to ward off Ebola. Part of the drug is made using antibodies produced by lab animals exposed to parts of the Ebola virus. Dr. Kent Brantly received one dose of Zmapp and Nancy Writebol received two doses of the serum.
It is unknown at this time is the Zmapp treatment worked as well as everyone had hoped. The Ebola virus is a tricky disease and victims of Ebola tend to take swings in both directions. One day they are much better and the next day they could be much worse.
There are no cures or vaccines for the Ebola virus. In the past, Ebola virus survivors have survived on their own without the aid of special serums. There is a lot of hope that Zmapp could play a big role in treating Ebola Virus patients in the future and testing on humans is expected to take place in the next several months.