The blood of Ebola survivors will be used to create treatments / Abid Katib/Getty Images

The virus is spreading faster, the World Health Organisation has warned

Drug therapies derived using the blood of Ebola survivors may be used to treat patients currently suffering from the deadly virus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.

Calling for investment in the experimental treatments, a senior member of the WHO said the drugs could be “very effective” in treating the disease which has claimed the lives of almost 2,000 people in less than a year. 

"There is a real opportunity that blood-derived products can be used now. This can be very effective in terms of treating patients," WHO assistant director-general Marie-Paule Kieny told a news conference at an Ebola crisis summit.

"With the negative point that we have so many patients, one positive point is there are also many people now who are convalescent, who survived and are doing well. These people can provide blood, serum to treat," she said.

"What is available will be used in the field to treat real patients as soon as possible."

Two "promising" Ebola vaccines have so far been identified, she explained. Safety test results from clinical trials in the US, Europe and Africa will available in November, and will pave the way for the drugs to be used, Kieny said.

If the results are positive, the vaccines will be given to health care workers in the field as a priority, with their informed consent, she said.

The two vaccines are made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc and NewLink Genetics, according to WHO documents submitted to the two-day talks attended by nearly 200 experts. "These must be prioritised in terms of clinical development," Kieny said.

"If we have good safety data, if the results are positive, they will start to be used in health care workers in order to protect and also to evaluate if it protects them," Kieny said.

Kieny’s comments came as the WHO released worrying new figures showing that the spread of Ebola has rapidly increased, and has killed almost 1,000 people in the last month alone.

Ebola-related deaths across West Africa doubled in August as the death toll reached 1,900. There have been 3,685 cases reported since the outbreak.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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