SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

International scientists discussing Ebola cure from plasma

Scientists from Africa, Asia Europe, and the United States have united in the Global Emerging Pathogens Therapy/Treatment (GET) forum to discuss the possibility of implementing plasma treatments to cure Ebola.

The scientists are trying to determine the effectiveness and safety of treating Ebola patients with plasma therapies. They also are discussing the organization of processing and storing plasmapheresis, and plasma processing facilities throughout Africa. The plasma is gathered from Ebola survivors in West Africa. 

Because of the high rates of blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis and malaria in African countries, using blood components for treating diseases has always been a controversial topic in Africa. Fortunately, there have been some recent advances in pathogen inactivation technology, which reduces patients’ chances of contracting diseases through blood components. These technological advances are at the perfect time for scientists to study immune-plasma treatments with Ebola.

"There is no known cure for Ebola but there is convincing evidence that the disease can be prevented and its severity curtailed by the use of plasma products from patients who have recovered," Akin Abayomi, a professor and hematologist at Tygerberg Academic Hospital, University of Stellenbosch, and the National Health Laboratory Service of South Africa, said. "The availability of new technology at our disposal provides an opportunity to study the effectiveness of Ebola convalescent plasma and could help contain the spread of this deadly pathogen more effectively."

Researchers expect to begin clinical trials for the plasma therapies this month in the regions of Africa that are most affected by the Ebola outbreak, including Lagos, Nigeria.

Participants in the forum and the research study include an African-led team, the Clinical Research Management Inc. (ClinicalRM) and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USMRIID).

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