drug trials to be fast-tracked in West Africa
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[September 23, 2014]
LONDON (Reuters) - Several
experimental Ebola drugs, including compounds from Mapp
Biopharmaceutical, Sarepta and Tekmira, will be tested in West Africa
for the first time in a bid to fast-track trials, the Wellcome Trust
charity said on Tuesday.
Announcing a 3.2 million pounds ($5.25 million) grant for the work,
the global health charity said the money would "enable multiple
partners around the world to quickly establish clinical trials at
existing Ebola treatment centers".
An Ebola epidemic in West Africa has killed more than 2,800 people
since it began in Guinea earlier this year, and the World Health
Organization (WHO) has said it fears up to 20,000 people could be
affected before it is brought under control.
The unprecedented outbreak of the virus, one of the most virulent
infectious diseases known in humans, has been declared a threat to
international peace and security by the UN Security Council and
prompted demands for an urgent response.
In August a WHO expert panel unanimously concluded that in such
exceptional circumstances it would be ethical to deploy and test
unregistered experimental treatments on people with Ebola.
"It is a huge challenge to carry out clinical trials under such
difficult conditions, but ultimately this is the only way we will
ever find out whether any new Ebola treatments actually work," said
Jeremy Farrar, the Wellcome Trust's director.
"What's more, rapid trials, followed by large-scale manufacturing
and distribution of any effective treatments, might produce
medicines that could be used in this epidemic."
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The Wellcome Trust said several potential drugs are under
consideration and a group of independent experts appointed by WHO is
working to recommend which to prioritize based on factors such as
which is likely to work best, their availability, the ability to
give them safely, and whether they can be manufactured to a useful
It said various pharma companies including Mapp, Sarepta, and
Tekmira were working with the initiative and providing data on
efficacy, safety, and production abilities for a number of the
(1 US dollar = 0.6099 British pound)
(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Andrew Heavens)
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