Scientists were a step closer on Monday to a cure for Ebola after two of four drugs in a clinical trial were found to significantly increase survival rates.
The study began last November in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but its current phase will now be stopped.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) said in a statement that all future patients will be switched over to the two treatments that have shown positive results.
“The preliminary results in 499 study participants indicated that individuals receiving REGN-EB3 or mAb114 had a greater chance of survival compared to participants in the other two arms,” according to the health authority.
The NIH added the final analysis of the data would occur in late September or early October. The NIH, Democratic Republic of Congo health authorities and the World Health Organization praised the team of individuals who have worked under extremely difficult conditions to carry out this study.
“Thanks to this trial, we are starting to understand which treatments to offer to patients.”—Jeremy Farrar
Jeremy Farrar, director of Britain’s Wellcome Trust research charity, said the development would undoubtedly save lives.
He said: “Thanks to this trial, we are starting to understand which treatments to offer to patients in this and future outbreaks. The more we learn about these two treatments, and how they can complement the public health response, including contact tracing and vaccination, the closer we can get to turning Ebola from a terrifying disease to one that is preventable and treatable.”
More than 1,800 people have died in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since Ebola broke out there in August last year. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals, then spreads among humans through direct contact with the blood or other secretions of infected people or with surfaces contaminated with their fluids.