Experimental serum used on Ebola patients

Global Business

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has prompted federal officials to fast-track development of a vaccine. An experimental treatment is being developed by a California company.

Two American aid workers, infected with the Ebola virus, have now received the serum. The treatment has shown promise in animals trials, but it had never been tested or used on humans until now.

Tobacco, better known for contributing to millions of preventable deaths, could also be the plant that saves thousands of lives. Specially modified leaves of tobacco may already be saving the lives of two American health care workers infected with the Ebola virus while working in Africa. Both patients are now back in the U.S. and receiving an experimental serum produced from tobacco plants. The results have been promising, especially for patient Dr. Kent Brantly.

“I can tell you I was so heartened to see that man get up and walk out of the ambulance. I thought he’d have to be carried on the stretcher,” says Dr. Erica Ollman Saphire with the Scripps Research Institute.

The serum, called Z-Mapp, is manufactured by a San Diego, California-based company, Mapp Biopharmaceutical. It’s been tested on monkeys but this is the first time it’s been used on humans. Mapp was one of 15 companies awarded $28 million in grants from the U.S. government to create an Ebola serum cocktail of antibodies that attach to the virus.

Can Z-Mapp neutralize the worst Ebola outbreak in history? The serum is in very limited supply and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s not available for general use.

Dr. Saphire says while lab animals have shown dramatic improvement, wider human trials won’t begin until 2015 and doctors won’t know the serum’s true capabilities until then.

CCTV America’s YaKenda McGahee reports from Los Angeles.

Phil Hay, the World Bank’s Africa Spokesman joins CCTV. Hay speaks about the international community mobilising financially to try to stem the tide of the disease. The World Bank is among those putting up money, contributing 200 million dollars.

And for more on the treatments underway for Ebola, Dr. Jonathan Epstein, joins CCTV. He is the Associate Vice President of Conservation Medicine at EcoHealth Alliance and an expert on diseases like Ebola.