Two anti-Ebola drugs have proved so effective they will be rolled out to all patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo, raising the prospect of a potential cure for the deadly disease. In a trial conducted since November, more than 90 per cent of patients survived when they were treated early enough with one of the two drugs, scientists said. Under normal circumstances, some 70 per cent of people infected with the virus die. In the latest outbreak in Congo, the second worst in history, some 1,800 people are known to have died out of about 2,800 infected.
The success builds on the lifelong work of a Congolese doctor:
The two drugs, called REGN-EB3 and mAb114, attack the Ebola virus with antibodies, preventing the virus from entering cells. They build on a treatment developed by Dr Jean-Jacques Muyembe, director of Congo’s National Institute for Biomedical Research, who has helped lead the fight against Ebola for four decades.
Dr Muyembe, 77, was recently put in charge of the Congo’s response against the Ebola outbreak, which has taken place in the east of the vast central African country where lawlessness and lack of trust in authorities has hampered the response.
Incidentally, Dr. Muyembe-Tamfum “was part of the research team that investigated the first known outbreak of Ebola virus disease in 1976.” He earned his medical degree from the University of Lovanium in Kinshasa (1969), and PhD in virology from the University of Leuven in Belgium (1973). He was appointed dean of the Faculty of Kinshasa University Medical school in 1978.