WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Plasma from Ebola survivors useful for treatments, but can't save lives

The trial, called Ebola-Tx, demonstrated that using convalescent plasma is safe, feasible and acceptable to patients. | File photo

A recent study, available in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that plasma from Ebola survivors can be safely used to treat Ebola patients, but using the plasma doesn’t notably improve the chances of survival.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp (ITM) conducted the largest trial yet for Ebola and convalescent plasma. 

The trial, called Ebola-Tx, demonstrated that using convalescent plasma is safe, feasible and acceptable to patients, donors and health care workers. But Ebola-Tx also showed that this doesn’t mean the plasma can save lives.

"While it was not possible to conduct a randomized trial in the circumstances of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, the results of this important study indicate that treatment with convalescent plasma from unselected Ebola survivors is unlikely to markedly improve Ebola survival rates,” Professor Peter Smith, co-investigator from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said. "This treatment was relatively complicated to set up and administer and it is very disappointing that, despite these efforts, there was no significant impact on survival. We cannot exclude the possibility that selecting plasma donors with high levels of antibodies against the Ebola virus might be more effective, and this is a direction for future research."

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London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Keppel Street London WC1E 7HT UK ,

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