Simple blood transfusion could cure Ebola

by Emma Chidiogo

The Ebola Virus is known to be one of the world’s deadliest virii with over 1900 cases of death reported since it’s outbreak in West Africa earlier this year. A total of 3,707 cases have been reported  globally, including over 18 cases in Nigeria.

Research scientists around the world have been one of the busiest in the past few months, as search for a vaccine continues. More than 200 doctors were assembled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, US, for the sole purpose of developing a vaccine. One consensus reached by some researchers is that blood transfusion  could be a possible cure for Ebola. This method has been described as Convalescent plasma.

Convalescent plasma involves taking blood from Ebola survivors, and administering to victims with the hope that antibodies developed by the bodies of former victims will fight off the virus. Antibodies are produced by the body’s immune system to fight off harmful things such as viruses. They remain in the blood ready to fight off any future infections by the same foreign substance.

“This is something that’s fairly simple to do,” Dr Peter Piot, director of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, said.

Other possible cures for the Ebola virus as discovered by researchers are listed below;

One of the vaccines developed earlier, which has gained much international recognition was the ZMapp unproven drug. The drug, still in its experimental phase, have been administered to seven patients, of which 5 recovered, while two died. But the limited supply of the ZMapp is now exhausted and its developer says it will take months to make even a modest amount.

Hyperimmune globulin
This is another option – which can be used to treat rabies, tetanus and hepatitis B. The treatment is created by purifying and concentrating the plasma of immunised animals or previously infected humans. But the drug is not currently available, and the WHO says that large-scale batches for use in humans is not expected before mid-2015.

Phosphorodiamidate oligonucleotide
It is a chemical added to the basic building blocks of the DNA, which works by changing the genetic make-up of the virus inside the patient, and destroying it. Although it is not yet available, Scientists say that early studies are encouraging, and that 20-25 courses should be ready by mid October.

This is perhaps the most widely-available treatment – if deemed effective. it has been used in Japan to treat influenza. More than 10,000 doses could be available – but it has not yet been tested on humans with Ebola.

The spread of the Ebola Virus Disease has been exponential (the number of infection cases doubles every 29 days).

“The number of cases is rising exponentially. The disease is spreading far faster than the response. People are increasingly frustrated that it is not being controlled,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said on Friday.

It is the worst outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo. The World health Organisation (WHO) has said casualty figures may be up to four times higher than reported, with a possibility of 20,000 people being affected before the outbreak ends.

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