First up in the news this week is a look at the experimental drug ZMapp used to treat the two U.S. medical aid workers who contracted Ebola while helping with the outbreak in Africa. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on it in the video associated with the linked article over at CNN.com.

ZMapp Ebola Serum by Mapp Biopharmaceutical

Ebola virusThis drug is the creation of a San Diego drug company called Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. The drug has proven effective in treating monkeys infected with the Ebola virus but had never been tried on human patients before this outbreak. Dr. Kent Brantly was the first person to receive the experimental serum and at the time was considered to be in his last few hours on this earth. He had called his wife to say goodbye and was weak and unable to get out of bed.

Those of you who saw video of his arrival in Atlanta after the transatlantic ambulance flight saw that he walked into the Emory University isolation unit on his own power – not what you’d expect from a near dead patient. The other U.S. patient treated with the drug, Brantly’s co-worker Nancy Writebol, has seemed to have a similar reaction to the serum with a quick rebound from near death condition.

It’s too early to determine if this serum is the magic bullet for Ebola that we so sorely need but it does appear promising and will give the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration some things to think about moving forward as more people might benefit from this new treatment. Both these aid workers had medical backgrounds and knew the risks associated with taking an experimental drug but that is not the case for most of the people who contracted the disease so more testing and thought is needed before we release it for widespread use in the current outbreak. I’ll keep following this story and let you know if there are any major updates to come in the future.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Instant Voice Helps Intubated Patients Talk to Nurses and Episode 307.

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