FDA approves first Ebola treatment
The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug tested during the Ebola outbreak of 2018 as a treatment for the disease. This is the first agency-approved therapy for Ebola and shows that emergency research can find effective drugs.
" Today's approval underscores the importance of international collaboration in the fight against Ebola, "said John Farley, director of the Bureau of Infectious Diseases at the Center for Drug Evaluation of the FDA and Research.
The drug, called Inmazeb, is a mixture of three antibodies that block the Ebola virus. It was developed by Regeneron, which is also testing antibody therapy against COVID-19. In clinical trials, patients who took Inmazeb were much less likely to die from the disease.
Inmazeb was tested in a clinical trial that took place in 2018 and 2019 during an Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The trial, called the PALM trial, compared four drugs developed to treat Ebola, and two - this drug and a different cocktail of antibodies - were found to be the most effective.
The PALM trial was the first major attempt to conduct a rigorous clinical trial during an ongoing epidemic. Before starting, the World Health Organization was concerned about the inconvenience of conducting a trial during an emergency, as it could starve resources to care for sick patients. This trial and other studies conducted during Ebola outbreaks over the past decade have shown that scientific research during an outbreak is possible.
Researchers are now applying these lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the trialsUS-based antiviral remdesivir, which the FDA cleared for emergency use, was modeled on the PALM trial, for example.
"What we have learned from Ebola is definitely something that helps us to be even better during this epidemic," said Andre Kalil, professor of internal medicine. at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, The Verge in February.