WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US health authorities said they were preparing to send an experimental Ebola virus to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for use in a clinical trial aimed at curbing the outbreak of the virus in Mbandaka, home to about 1.5 million people.
Antony Fauche, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that the trial will be over the actual treatment of MEP 114 in the face of the highly contagious virus, adding that the drug was made of antibodies Leung from the outbreak of Ebola in Kikwit, Congo in 1995.
Scientists at the National Institute's Vaccine Research Center began the first experiment on human drugs last week when Fauche received a request from the Congolese Ministry of Health to use the treatment in a clinical trial there.
"We have not yet finished the first stage," said Fauche, but expressed his pleasure to start this as long as the experiment is conducted in cooperation with the World Health Organization.
A government spokeswoman said on Wednesday that Congo needs approval from a professional ethics committee before any experimental treatment is allowed.
Fauche said the United States had 90 doses of the drug that could be made available soon and another batch would be ready before the end of the year.
This is the ninth outbreak of Ebola in Congo since the first known case of the virus in the 1970s. The emergence of cases in Mbandaka, a city bordering the Congo River, has raised fears of the spread of the virus to the capital Kinshasa, which has a population of 10 million