08 September 2014

Prospects for the fight against the Ebola virus

To create a vaccine is not to bake a pie

Tatiana Grigoryants, Vesti FMThe Russian vaccine against the Ebola virus has successfully passed preclinical tests, and it can be used.

This was stated by the head of the Ministry of Health of Russia Veronika Skvortsova. Now Russian doctors are awaiting certification from the World Health Organization, after which they will be ready to help their foreign colleagues in the fight against fever. Details in the material of the correspondent of "Vesti FM" Tatiana Grigoryants.

Almost 200 experts from all over the world gathered in Geneva to review 8 new experimental drugs against the Ebola virus and two vaccines. Among the presented copies there is also a Russian version, which has already managed to pass preclinical tests. And quite successfully, the Ministry of Health notes, adding that the vaccine can be used to treat patients with fever with the hope of success, as is done with foreign analogues. Despite the fact that the virus was discovered almost 40 years ago, there are still no registered medicines for it, says Georgy Vikulov, director of the Scientific Information Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Viral Infections.

"Currently, specific treatment, vaccination, and antiviral drugs do not exist on our planet. That is, they are not developed. Creating a vaccine is not the same as baking a pie. This is a multi-stage, complex and expensive very difficult path first to clinical trials, and then to clinical trials."

Meanwhile, the medical community of the world is not asleep. The search for the coveted medicine is in full swing. Among the drugs that have high hopes, there is one that consists of the plasma of patients who have defeated the infection. Researchers believe that the blood of such people has antibodies that can help other infected people cope with it. However, WHO requires developers to study the issue further. After all, it is still not clear whether the plasma contains enough antibodies to cure.

The second drug that made a lot of noise is Zmapp, a cocktail of three hybrid monoclonal antibodies obtained from infected mice and humans. The drug showed excellent results on monkeys, which were cured five days after infection. At the same time, there is a difficulty – at the moment there are only ten doses of the drug, and it will not be possible to create more until the end of 2014.

The third drug is a hyperimmune serum obtained after animals were immunized with the Ebola virus. The antibodies isolated in this way can neutralize various subtypes of the Ebola virus within 48 hours after infection, as proved by tests on primates. But even this serum on a mass scale will not be able to be produced before the middle of 2015.

Finally, WHO does not exclude the possibility of using interferons already approved for the treatment of, for example, chronic hepatitis and multiple sclerosis to combat a dangerous virus. However, animal trials of these available drugs have not been very convincing. The task for doctors is complicated by the fact that the virus is actively mutating, virologist Valery Shmunk notes.

"The Ebola virus cannot be called too volatile, it is quite stable. That is, its variability, roughly speaking, pathogenic variability, is much lower than, say, the influenza virus, which also contains RNA. Of course, the virus will change, because this is its inherent property."

But the fact that the virus is mutating is even good, the expert continues, because the first strains were much more dangerous for humans than today's ones. Gradually, the virus ceases to kill, passing simply into chronic forms. And this is easily explained, says Schmunk.

"It is beneficial for the virus to be present in the population as long as possible, in this case, a person. And spread. And how will it spread if it only kills people? He needs to infect as much as possible. Therefore, of course, it will mutate precisely in the direction of weakening its lethality, lethality. By 2017-2018, for sure, without even really straining, so to speak, the vaccine will be made. But due to the fact that, apparently, funding will be sharply increased now – probably earlier."

It is worth noting that the world pharmaceutical companies have received special permission to use the drugs being developed immediately directly on the sick. However, preclinical animal testing is needed. The World Health Organization has established such a rule, recognizing the outbreak of fever in West Africa as an extraordinary event. At the moment, almost 2,000 people have become victims of the Ebola virus.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru08.09.2014

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