The Liberian Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) has approved clinical trials of the anti-viral drug “brincidofovir for the treatment of Ebola patients.
Clinical trial of the drug as a possible treatment for Ebola began on Jan. 1 at ELWA-3 in Paynesville which is operated by MSF (Doctors Without Borders).
A statement from MSF says the trial, led by Oxford University, United Kingdom and funded by the Welcome Trust, aims to determine if brincidofovir is an effective treatment for Ebola.
Taking part in the trial is completely voluntary, says MSF and the trial is designed without a control group (a group that does not receive the medication) in order to include as many Ebola positive patients as possible.
While MSF hopes that brincidofovir might reduce deaths from Ebola, it cautions that the drug is not a miracle cure and it is still not known whether it will help patients survive the virus.
“The drug will not be available in drug stores, and will be used only under the specific conditions of the trial at ELWA 3,” says Dr Jake Dunning, Trial Clinical Lead from Oxford University.
“We know that is has been taken safely by over 1000 people in clinical trials for other viral infections and we know that it is has been shown to be effective in laboratory tests that use Ebola infected cells. What we do not know yet is if it will be effective against Ebola in humans and this is why we must do a trial,” says Dr. Dunning.
All new patients confirmed to be Ebola positive by blood test at ELWA 3 will be informed about the trial and can decide whether they would like to participate or not.
Those who do not wish to be given the new treatment will receive the same standard supportive care as those who do. Standard treatment includes oral and IV rehydration therapy, anti-malarial treatment, antibiotics and specific treatment for symptoms of Ebola, such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
The drug will not offer any benefit to people who do not have Ebola and it will only be given to those confirmed with Ebola. “With every possible treatment comes hope, and we are very excited that we may be able to help our patients beyond symptom management and routine supportive treatments like IV fluid therapy” says MSF medical coordinator Brett Adamson.
“But this treatment, even if shown to be effective, will not end the epidemic. To continue pushing case numbers down to zero, we must remember to keep washing our hands, avoid touching people we don’t know, and to seek help when someone becomes sick or dies. Ebola has not gone away and we all have a lot of work still to do.”
The trial is also running with the approval of the ethics committees from the University of Liberia, MSF and Oxford University. It is expected that the first results will be available in February.