ASU in fight against dreaded Ebola

National Institutes of Health
Ebola virus particle / National Institutes of Health

The experimental drug used to treat two American health care workers infected with the Ebola virus was developed in part by researchers right at ASU, multiple news outlets report. And they hope that the special plant-based technology used to create the Ebola treatment might be an important path to treating other infectious diseases.

Phoenix New Times   reports that for the past decade, researchers at ASU have collaborated on a variety of projects with a small, San Diego-based biotech company called Mapp Pharmaceutical. In 2005, the Biodesign Institute and Mapp Pharmaceutical decided to try to develop an Ebola vaccine or treatment.

Dr. Charles Arntzen, the founding director of ASU’s Biodesign Institute, has worked since then with Mapp Pharmaceutical to develop ZMapp, a potentially life-saving Ebola treatment. ZMapp is a cocktail of three different Ebola antibodies, and is administered after exposure to the deadly virus.

The treatment hasn’t been approved by the FDA yet — in fact, it had never been tried on humans before it was given to the two aid workers late last month — but it is rather effective in animals.

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