Ebola virus: Treatment made from blood of survivors could be available within two weeks

Epidemic has already killed more than 4,500 people

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Indy Lifestyle Online

A new blood serum treatment for Ebola made from the blood of survivors could be available in Liberia within two weeks, the World Health Organisation has revealed.

The serum will be formulated with antibodies extracted from the blood. Plans for two vaccines are also underway.

Teresa Romero, a Spanish nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa this year, tested negative for the virus after reportedly receiving human blood serum containing antibodies.

The epidemic has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since the outbreak started 10 months ago.

Experts have said the world could see 10,000 new cases a week in two months if authorities did not do more to tackle the virus.

Dr Marie Paule Kieny, assistant director general at the WHO, said: “There are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients.

“The partnership which is moving the quickest will be in Liberia where we hope that in the coming weeks there will be facilities set up to collect the blood, treat the blood and be able to process it for use.”

Donor blood will need to be screened for diseases such as HIV, malaria and hepatitis before red blood cells are removed so that there are only the infection-fighting antibodies in the plasma left.

Two vaccines for the viral disease are also planned to be tested in West Africa by January, the UN health agency announced.

The trials will start in the new year on more than 20,000 frontline health care workers, however Dr Kieny said there is a risk the vaccines could fail.

“These are quite large trials,” she said.

An effective vaccine would not be enough to contain the outbreak but could protect medical workers, of which 200 have already died of Ebola.

The real-world testing in West Africa will only go ahead if the vaccines prove safe and trigger an adequate immune-system response in volunteers during clinical trials that are either underway or planned for Europe, Africa and the US.

The preliminary safety data is expected to become available by December this year.

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