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WHO plans to speed development of Ebola rapid test

CENTER FOR INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH AND POLICY
By Lisa Schnirring                                               Nov.18, 2014

Quicker and simpler diagnostic tests for Ebola could go a long way in helping break chains of disease transmission in West Africa's outbreak region, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today, as it unveiled two new initiatives to expedite their development.

The WHO said it hopes new efforts—similar to those under way to test and deliver an Ebola vaccine—can compress the development of a rapid test in months instead of years.

A Navy worker extracts RNA from a patient sample at a Naval mobile lab in Liberia. US Army Africa

Standard reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests used in mobile and other labs in the outbreak are very accurate when conducted by trained staff, but they require a full tube of blood, take 2 to 6 hours to get a result, and costs around $100 per test, the WHO said today in a statement....

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WHO starts survey of Ebola treatments, says none proven so far

UPDATE:   Additonal information on the WHO discussions of potential Ebola treatments.

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REUTERS                                                      Nov. 14, 2014

By Tom Miles

GENEVA --The World Health Organization (WHO) has begun assessing more than 120 potential treatments for Ebola patients, it said on Friday, but so far has found none that definitely work, and some that definitely do not....

The apparent effect of ZMapp or other drugs that have been tried may simply be a result of the good care that the patients had received, or the fact that they were well-nourished before they fell sick, or because of other medicines, Friede said.

Medecins Sans Frontieres plans to start trials next month of the drugs brincidofovir, from the U.S. firm Chimerix, and favipiravir, from Japan's Fujifilm, and to see how well blood plasma from Ebola survivors may work in curing those still infected....

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http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/14/us-health-ebola-who-treatments-idUSKCN0IY1CR20141114

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Momentum to fund Ebola vacine research is growing in Congress

FOREIGN POLICY                                                                                                           Nov. 13, 2014

By David Francis

As the Ebola outbreak continues in West Africa, momentum to change FDA restrictions to allow Congress to allocate money toward research on drugs that treat tropical diseases, including Ebola, is growing.

A bill drafted by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would allow the FDA to fund Ebola treatment research will be marked up next week by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee....

 The bill, which has 17 co-sponsors, is part of a flurry of congressional activity on Ebola and the Obama administration's $6.18 billion proposal to confront the disease domestically and abroad. The Senate Appropriations Committee debated Obama's plan on Wednesday, and House and Senate panels are expected to address the White House's spending request next week.

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Cepheid receives grant to develop Ebola diagnostic test

REUTERS                                                           Nov. 20,2014

Molecular diagnostics company Cepheid said it received a grant of up to $3.3 million, co-financed by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop a diagnostic test for the deadly Ebola virus.

The Xpert Ebola test, which is expected to use saliva or a drop of blood to identify the virus, is likely to be offered on an emergency use only basis, Cepheid said on Thursday.

Cepheid and the Gates Foundation are also evaluating deploying the company's RemoteXpert cloud-based monitoring software to help track the spread of the disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month granted emergency authorization to two new Ebola diagnostic tests made by BioFire, a subsidiary of medical diagnostics maker BioMerieux.

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Bats’ Link to Ebola Finally Solved

 

THE DAILY BEAST                                                                                                           Nov. 11, 2014
By Carfrie Arnold

A new paper outlines five steps required for a virus to ‘spill over’ from bats to humans. But don’t just blame the bats—deforestation and hunting are to blame, too.

These nocturnal fliers might do some good, but their association with night, rabies, and All Things Creepy means that, at best, we tolerate them. Adding to their negative aura is recent research showing that bats can be the source of infectious diseases like SARS and Ebola, as well as lesser-known pathogens like Hendra and Nipah virus.

It’s all too easy to blame bats for causing these human pandemics, including the most recent (and deadliest) Ebola outbreak. After all, these viruses hang out in bats in between outbreaks—trace any outbreak of these viruses back far enough and you will find a bat.

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Out of Africa — Caring for Patients with Ebola

NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE                                                                  Nov. 12, 2014

Eric J. Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., and Lindsey R. Baden, M.D.

The Journal has now published detailed clinical information about three patients transferred from West Africa to the United States or Germany in the midst of their illness.

See details of the treatment

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1412744

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Out of Africa — Caring for Patients with Ebola

NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE                                                                  Nov. 12, 2014

Eric J. Rubin, M.D., Ph.D., and Lindsey R. Baden, M.D.

The Journal has now published detailed clinical information about three patients transferred from West Africa to the United States or Germany in the midst of their illness.

See detais of the treatment

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1412744

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Doctors Without Borders will begin Ebola drug studies by December in Africa

USA TODAY                                         Nov. 12, 2014
by Liz Sazbo

Doctors Without Borders will begin clinical trials of three experimental Ebola therapies in West Africa in December, the aid group announced Wednesday.

The studies, to be conducted at the group's treatment centers in Guinea and Liberia, will test therapies already used in some Ebola patients in the USA and Europe: the antiviral drugs brincidofovir and favipiravir, as well as blood donations from Ebola survivors.

Brincidofovir, made by Chimerix of North Carolina, was given to cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan and physician Craig Spencer. Mukpo and Spencer survived. Duncan received the drug just a couple days before he died.

Favipiravir, an anti-flu drug made by Japan's Fujifilm Holding Corp., was given to a French nurse who worked with Doctors Without Borders.

And blood donations from Ebola survivors, which contain antibodies against the virus, have been used since the first Ebola outbreak in 1976.

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http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/12/ebola-clinical-trial/18919401/

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For Ebola, don't forget lessons from the AIDS epidemic

THE HILL                                                          Nov. 12, 2014
Commentary by Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A, President of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation.

...Without a commitment by Congress to fund basic medical research, the lives of millions are put at risk, along with the nation’s economic and national security. Outbreaks of deadly viruses – including AIDS or Ebola – have shown us the costs of not remaining vigilant.

  So how much funding is enough? It’s time for us to have that national conversation once again. We do not know what the superbugs of tomorrow will look like. But we do know that novel pathogens will emerge or existing ones will mutate, and that as global travel and migration inexorably increase, disease knows no border. It is time for us to stop chasing at AIDS and Ebola from behind, and take stock of our capacity to commit.

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Fujifilm says tests results on Avigan as Ebola drug by end-2014

REUTERS                                                 Nov. 11, 2014
By Ayai Tomisawa and Reiji Murai

TOKYO--Fujifilm Holdings Corp said it expects its influenza drug Avigan to be approved by international government bodies to treat Ebola after it receives clinical test results as early as the end of the year.

Tablets of Avigan (generic name : Favipiravir), a drug approved as an anti-influenza drug in Japan and developed by drug maker Toyama Chemical Co, a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Co. are displayed during a photo opportunity at Fujifilm's headquarters in Tokyo October 22, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

Fujifilm has been growing its pharmaceutical division through a series of mergers and acquisitions as its photography business wanes. In 2008, it bought Toyama Chemical Co, whose drug Avigan has been drafted to the global fight against Ebola.

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