Tags: Ebola Outbreak | ebola | cure | blood

Can the Blood of Ebola Survivors Create a Cure?

Monday, 22 Dec 2014 08:05 AM

For months, Vanderbilt University researcher Dr. James Crowe has been desperately seeking access to the blood of U.S. Ebola survivors, hoping to extract the proteins that helped them overcome the deadly virus for use in new, potent drugs.
 
His efforts finally paid off in mid-November with a donation from Dr. Rick Sacra, a University of Massachusetts physician who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia.

The donation puts Crowe at the forefront of a new model for fighting the virus, now responsible for the worst known outbreak in West Africa that has killed nearly 7,000 people.

"They can take antibodies they find in my blood and map them out,” Sacra said in an interview. “They are looking for the ones that are most important in neutralizing the virus.”
 
Sacra, a medical missionary for Christian group SIM USA, said he made the blood donation with “no strings attached,” and does not stand to gain financially if a product based on his antibodies reaches the market.

Crowe is working with privately-held drugmaker Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc, which he said will manufacture the antibodies for further testing under a National Institutes of Health grant. Mapp is currently testing its own drug ZMapp, a cocktail of three antibodies that has shown promise in treating a handful of Ebola patients.

Crowe’s hope is to improve on ZMapp by isolating the human antibodies of actual survivors and create a drug effective against all strains of Ebola.

Several leading scientists have embraced the idea of using survivors’ antibodies as the most promising approach in the fight against Ebola.

Crowe is also part of a large consortium of academic and corporate partners working to develop and test human antibodies from Ebola survivors treated at Emory University that is being assembled by Department of Defense.

The push is part of the race to develop drugs to address the ongoing outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Canada’s Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp is also testing a treatment, while drugmakers including GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, in partnership with NewLink Genetics, are working on vaccines.

Last month, a group of prominent scientists including three Nobel laureates, urged the U.S. government to accelerate the antibodies push, Reuters reported.

"We've moving night and day around this,” Crowe said.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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For months,Vanderbilt University researcher Dr. James Crowe has been desperately seeking access to the blood of U.S. Ebola survivors, hoping to extract the proteins that helped them overcome the deadly virus for use in new,potent drugs. His efforts finally paid off in...
ebola, cure, blood
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2014-05-22
Monday, 22 Dec 2014 08:05 AM
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