(UPI) — Doctors Without Borders is launching the first clinical trials of new treatments next month for Ebola in West Africa, where the virus has now killed 5,100 people.
The focus will be keeping people alive through the key first 14 days of the illness.The group, which will also be working with other French, Belgian and British researchers, will try two antiviral drugs from a World Health Organization short list along with blood and plasma therapy.
The drugs being tested are brincidofovir, an experimental drug originally developed by Chimerix Inc., of Durham, N.C., to fight other viruses; and favipiravir, from a Japanese company, that has been approved in Japan as a treatment for flu. There are no approved drugs to treat Ebola. Care now involves replacing fluids lost by a patient with the virus, which is fatal 50 percent of the time, according to WHO.
Risks will be carefully explained to all patients in the trial, said a Doctors Without Borders spokesman. There will be no control group given only placebos. Efficacy of the drugs will be determined based on survival rates.
“There is no guarantee that these therapies will be the miracle cure,” organization spokesman Annick Antierens said in a statement. “But we need to do all we can to try the products available today to increase the chances of finding an effective treatment against Ebola.”