Via The Lancet: First trials for Ebola treatments announced. Excerpt:
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has announced that testing for three experimental Ebola treatments will begin at its treatment centres in west Africa in December. Researchers from the University of Oxford, UK, will test brincidofovir (Chimerix; NC, USA), an antiviral developed for use against cytomegalovirus or adenovirus infections. A team from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) will test favipiravir (Toyama Chemical, Japan), which was developed for use against influenza.
A third team, from the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium, will test convalescent whole blood and plasma treatment. The procedure involves taking antibody-containing blood or plasma from Ebola survivors and giving it to infected patients to help boost their chance of survival.
“There's a great need for these trials”, said Peter Horby, who is leading the Oxford team, at the Nov 13 press conference to announce the fast-tracked trials. “Both a humanitarian need…[and] a scientific need. We have these products that may or may not work in patients with Ebola. The only way we can test them is during an epidemic, so if we're going to find a treatment we have to do it now.”
All three trials are undergoing final regulatory and ethical approval. The brincidofovir and favipiravir trials will likely start in December. The trial of convalescent whole blood and plasma treatment will start recruiting several weeks later. “There are issues around the convalescent whole blood and plasma trial that you don't have with off-label drugs”, says Annick Antierens, a researcher at MSF who is coordinating the investigational partnership. “We need to take into consideration how to set up the survivor group and when and how much blood to take, as well as complicated acceptance and ethical issues around survivors.”
The trial of favipiravir will be done in Guéckédou, Guinea, and is funded by the European Commission. “Because we hypothesise the treatment will be most effective when given early”, says Denis Malvy, University of Bordeaux, France, who is leading the INSERM group, “we will do our primary assessment in 60 adults who begin treatment within 48 hours of symptom onset”. They will also recruit up to 160 people older than 12 years who receive treatment after this window, with interim efficacy analyses done after every 20 patients.