Combination of pills and transfusions may be answer to saving Ebola patient's life
The U.S. nurse who caught Ebola from a Liberian patient has undergone a plasma transplant to treat the virus, while the deceased patient was taking brincidofovird oral medication before he died.
Hospital officials in Dallas say Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian who was the first person to die from Ebola in the U.S., was taking the experimental drug Brincidofovir before he died, while the nurse who contracted the disease while caring for him, Nina Pham, has undergone a plasma transfusion to help her fight the disease.
Brincidofovir, also known as CMX-001, is made by Durham, North Carolina-based Chimerix Inc. It is currently in Phase 3 clinical testing against cytomegalovirus and adenovirus and has been tested on 1,000 humans, Chimerix said in a press release on its website. In late August, Chimerix reported data showing potent activity of brincidofovir against the Ebola virus in test tube experiments. However, the results are limited to the experiments performed in test tubes, and there is no data regarding brincidofovir’s efficacy in humans or animals.
Brincidofovir is a modification of the drug cidofovir, which inhibits replication of DNA viruses. Brincidofovir has been found to be an inhibitor of the Ebola virus, which is an RNA virus, Chimerix said.
When cidofovir enters a cell, it behaves sufficiently like a building block of DNA called cytidine for it to be used in viral DNA synthesis, causing inefficient viral DNA synthesis, thus inhibiting viral replication.
Brincidofovir is comprised of cidofovir and a lipid side chain that detaches, releasing high amounts of cidofovir into the body. Cells add phosphate groups that produce cidofovir diphosphates, which block the polymerase enzymes the Ebola virus uses to make copies of its genome.
Plasma transfusions such as the one Pham received help fight Ebola by allowing the antibodies developed in the body of someone who has survived the disease to fight the virus in the body of someone who is ill.
In theory, the blood of someone who has survived Ebola should carry virus antibodies. By giving a compatible current Ebola patient an injection of the survivor’s plasma, those antibodies could help fight the virus.
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