Ebola researcher raises $100,000 via crowdfunding
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[October 28, 2014]
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California-based
immunologist leading an international effort to develop new anti-Ebola
drugs has raised more than $100,000 in online donations to hasten the
research, achieving her Internet "crowdfunding" goal in just over two
The proceeds will be used to purchase a piece of equipment enabling
Scripps Research Institute scientists in San Diego to more quickly
analyze Ebola antibody samples from survivors of the hemorrhagic
fever, a spokeswoman there said on Monday.
Twenty-five labs in seven countries are providing specimens to
Scripps professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, whose consortium helped
formulate the experimental ZMapp serum used to treat a number of
Scripps posted its first crowdfunding appeal on Oct. 9 on the
website www.crowdrise.com/CureEbola seeking donations to pay for a
fast-protein-liquid-chromatography machine, according to spokeswoman
Madeline McCurry-Schmidt. The device is used to separate antibody
proteins and analyze their structure.
As of Monday afternoon, Saphire's group had raised a total of
$100,075 from 747 separate gifts, ranging in size from $10 to
$25,000, McCurry-Schmidt told Reuters.
"We have officially reached our goal," she said. "We're pretty
thrilled about this."
The Scripps-led consortium was established with a $28 million grant
from the National Institutes of Health, but the rapidly growing
scope of its work was outpacing its resources in the quest to
improve on ZMapp and develop drugs, McCurry-Schmidt said.
The current Ebola epidemic, the worst on record, has killed nearly
5,000 people since March, mostly in the West African countries of
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
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ZMapp is a mix of three antibodies designed to bind to proteins of
the Ebola virus, preventing it from replicating and triggering the
immune response of infected cells.
The compound was tested in monkeys, but there were no human trials
of the serum before it was rushed to Atlanta to treat two U.S. aid
workers at Emory University Hospital after they became infected in
Liberia in July. The two recovered, but doctors are unsure whether
the ZMapp actually helped them. At least one patient given the drug
in Spain later died.
ZMapp was co-developed by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical
Inc. Initial clinical trials of Ebola vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline
and NewLink Genetics are already under way, according to the World
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
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