Clinical trials of three new Ebola treatments are due to start next month in West Africa, Médecins Sans Frontières has announced.
Hundreds of infected patients are expected to take part in three separate trials which will be based in Guinea and Liberia. The studies which will only involve people who have been infected with Ebola, rather than the use of placebo groups, will see researchers monitor the survival rates and other effects.
With this being a fast tracked clinical trial immediate information is needed so the the study could end early if clear benefits or harm is being witnessed by the researchers. With initial results expected to be available in February.
5,000 people have already been killed by the West Africa Ebola epidemic and more than 13,000 people are infected reports the World Health Organisation.
The trials, which hope to quickly find an effective treatment against the disease, will test the drugs brincidofovir, from the US firm Chimerix, and favipiravir, from Japan’s Fujifilm.
The third trial will see how well blood plasma taken from Ebola survivors works in curing those infected.
Researchers have said it may be possible to add new experimental drugs in coming months.
Dr Annick Antierens, who coordinates the investigational partnerships for MSF, said the cooperation involved in conducting the trials was unprecedented and “represents hope for patients to finally get a real treatment“.
Each trial will be led by a different team, with the University of Oxford leading the trial in Liberia, with the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine leading the other two studies in Guinea.
The trials have been designed to ensure minimum disruption to the patients and that internationally accepted ethical standards will be kept and respected, with the aim that sound scientific data will be produced and shared for the greater good of the public.
The charity has also urged drugmakers to scale up production now, to try to ensure there is no gap between the end of the trials and any large-scale introduction of the medicines if they are found to be safe and effective.
“We need to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that these therapies will be the miracle cure,” Dr Antierens said. “But we need to do all we can to try the products available today to increase the chances of finding an effective treatment.”
Professor Peter Horby, the Chief Investigator of the ISARIC-led trial, said: “Conducting clinical trials of investigational drugs in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is a new experience for all of us, but we are determined not to fail the people of West Africa.”
“It has been a privilege to witness the extraordinary willingness of all the partners in this initiative to step outside their comfort zones in order to fast track these critically important trials.”
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