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Experimental ZMapp Drug has a 100% Success Rate for Monkeys

Update Date: Sep 01, 2014 01:21 PM EDT

According to the results from clinical trials conducted on ZMapp, the experimental medication for the Ebola virus, the drug was effective 100 percent of the time for monkeys.

"Before, ZMapp was a total mystery," professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, said. "This is an incredible improvement on those earlier cocktails, to have 100% clearance and most importantly that clearance when they've started to show outward signs of infection."

In the trials, researchers tested the drug on 18 rhesus macaques that were all infected with the Ebola virus. The monkeys were given the drug up to five days after infection. By this time, the infection would be considered relatively late stage. The infection would be considered fatal after another three more days. The researchers found that the drug was able to cure all of the monkeys.

"The level of improvement was beyond my own expectation, I was quite surprised that the best combination would rescue animals as far as day five, it was fantastic news," said Dr. Gary Kobinger from the Public Health Agency of Canada reported by BBC News. "What was very exceptional is that we could rescue some of the animals that had advanced disease."

Despite the results from the trials, ZMapp has not been 100 percent effective in humans. Out of the seven people who were given the experimental drug, two of them had died from the virus. The researchers want to start clinical trials in humans to determine whether or not the drug could be effective in curing Ebola. The researchers estimated that ZMapp could be effective when given no later than day nine or 11 after infection.

"We know there is a point of no return where there is too much damage to major organs, so there's a limit," Dr. Kobinger said.

Professor Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, added, "This well designed trial in non-human primates provides the most convincing evidence to date that ZMapp may be an effective treatment of Ebola infection in humans. It is now critical that human trials start as soon as possible. "

The study, "Reversion of advanced Ebola virus disease in nonhuman primates with ZMapp," was published in the journal, Nature.

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