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Survivors' Blood Can Fight Ebola: Experts

Update Date: Sep 04, 2014 08:10 PM EDT

To contain the latest West African Ebola outbreak, experts are suggesting the use of survivors' blood to treat patients.

The possible use of survivor blood will be discussed during the ongoing two-day WHO meeting at Geneva, where experts have gathered to discuss Ebola treatment options. Antibodies produced in survivors of previous outbreaks could be transferred to those infected, which could theoretically cure them, experts say. Such transfers were earlier done by doctors to fight Anthrax, bird flu and Tetanus.

"This is something that's fairly simple to do," Dr. Peter Piot, the co-discoverer of the Ebola virus, was quoted saying by Fox News.

Given the absence of a cure, experts feel transfer of blood is worth the shot. The experimental drug Zmapp which was used by seven infected people is yet to be tested thoroughly in humans. It will not be available for a few months as the manufacturer has exhausted the stock. said WHO's blood network is aware of thousands of survivors whose blood is a source of easily available antibodies.

The only known instance of blood transfer during the latest outbreak was transfer from a 14-year old survivor to American doctor Kent Brantly, who also received Zmapp. Though Brantly's recovered, his cure cannot be attributed entirely to the blood transfer as five other survivors also received Zmapp.

The move to use blood has attracted its share of skepticism. "With drugs, you can at least do some quality control. If you're just taking blood blindly from (survivors) without testing it for antibody levels, how can we predict what outcome they will have?" Tom Geisbert of University of Texas Galveston's Medical Branch said, according to Fox News.

The Ebola virus has infected more than 3,500 people and killed 1,900, VOA reported. WHO estimates that at least 20,000 people could be infected before the outbreak is contained. 

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