Clinical trials for Ebola drug begin in Liberia

The drug was originally developed for other viruses

By Vani Manocha
Published: Thursday 08 January 2015

The trial taking place at the MSF Ebola centre in Liberia (Photo: Caitlin Ryan/MSF)

Researchers from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom have launched a drug trial for brincidofovir, an oral antiviral medicine that can be used to treat the deadly Ebola. The trial has been started in Liberia—one of the worst affected West African countries in the present outbreak—and is taking place at a centre of international non- profit Médecins Sans Frontières.
 “Typically it takes over 18 months to start a trial. Here we have done it in less than four months,” Trudie Lang, an Oxford University professor, said in a statement issued by the university.

The drug brincidofovir was developed as a potential prevention or treatment for other viral diseases. While the novel antiviral has shown activity against the Ebola virus in test-tube studies in the lab, its effectiveness in patients with Ebola has not yet been evaluated.  “We can only fully evaluate potential Ebola therapies during an epidemic, and we have shown that this is possible, even during the worst epidemic in living memory,” says Peter Horby who is a professor at University of Oxford’s Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health and the trial's chief investigator.
In the trial—a single-arm, open-label study with no control group—a two-week course of brincidofovir is being given to all patients at the centre who are consenting to take part. Up to 140 adults will be involved in the trial. The main outcome measure, according to University of Oxford, is fatality rate among the Ebola patients taking part. This would be compared against the previous death rate seen among patients in the treatment centre before the trial began.

The deadly disease has so far claimed nearly 8,200 lives and about 20,000 people have been infected.

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