Researchers getting closer to Ebola treatment

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company, recently began its first human trials of an Ebola treatment that could eventually result in a cure for the deadly disease.

Tekmira has a $140 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a cure for the bioterror threat. Ebola experts gathered on Monday and Tuesday at the 6th International Symposium on Filoviruses and discussed if the treatment candidate, TKM-Ebola, should be used in Guinea to treat a recent outbreak that killed 83 people, International Business Times reports.

A spokesperson for Tekmira said the drug has not yet been approved for use. Dirk Haussecker, an independent consultant, said the use of TKM-Ebola could benefit Tekmira and Ebola patients.

"Deploying TKM-EBOLA in the current outbreak would have benefits for both the drug developer and patients," Haussecker said, according to International Business Times. "You could argue that it is ethically more troubling testing a new compound in healthy volunteers when actual patients are available."

Compassionate use authorization enables volunteers to take unapproved medicine if they have a life-threatening disease. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy Infectious Diseases, said it was his impression that TKM-Ebola is not advanced enough to use on a compassionate basis.

"I'm not 100 percent sure on that though," Fauci said, according to International Business Times.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Tekmira fast track designation on March 5, which is meant to speed up the process of developing important therapies. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for Ebola virus for humans.

Ebola kills approximately 90 percent of its victims, International Business Times reports.

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