Drug to treat Ebola outbreak

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The Food and Drug Administration helped clear the way for a second experimental drug to be used to treat people in Africa stricken with the Ebola virus.

 The drug, being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals of British Columbia, was in the initial phase of human testing, which is on healthy volunteers, when the FDA halted the trial last month because side-effects were observed.

The drug works by shutting off genes of the virus using a technique called RNA interference. Earlier there were reports that a different experimental medicine, made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical of San Diego, appeared to be helping two U.S. aid workers who had been stricken by the disease. Mapp and federal agencies are looking to provide that drug, called ZMapp, to sick people in Africa.

Tekmira announced that the FDA, while still saying the drug, called TKM-Ebola, should not be given to healthy volunteers, was now allowing its use to treat patients actually infected with the virus. But supplies of ZMapp and TKM-Ebola are limited. And there are various other obstacles, such as regulatory ones, to be surmounted before the drugs can be used in Africa. 


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