By SOLA OGUNDIPE
NIGERIAN pharmaceutical and scientific researchers have been tasked to respond to the public health concern brought about by the Ebola Virus Disease through intense research and development to identify a vaccine to prevent infection with the disease.
The call which came from the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, expressed concern about Ebola cases in the country said in recent reviews by the Society’s research and study group, some previous work had been conducted on the Ebola virus through the reflected studies. These include High-titeredhyperimmune horse anti-Ebola serum that has been protective in baboons experimentally challenged with Ebola.
Others are Monoclonal antibodies from the marrow of Ebola survivors and a potential, promising vaccine that offered considerable protection against Ebola to guinea pigs.
The PSN, in a statement, noted: “In mice, used as a model for Ebola infections, a series of nucleoside analogue inhibitors of S-adenosylhomocysteine hydrolase provided protection against Ebola-Zaire when administered within two days of Ebola-Zaire infection.
“Already, three companies, the US government and the Public Health Agency of Canada are behind the experimental drug.
“ZMapp was first identified as a drug candidate in January 2014 and has not yet been evaluated for safety in humans. As such, very little of the drug is currently available”.
It was stated that Promoters of “ZMapp and its partners are co-operating with appropriate government agencies to increase production as quickly as possible.”
ZMapp is a drug still in its experimental stage being produced by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals in collaboration with LeafBio (San Diego, CA), Defyrus Inc. (Toronto, Canada), the U.S. government and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). This drug is composed of three humanised monoclonal antibodies manufactured in plants specifically the plant Nicotiana which is commonly used in tobacco production.
Genes of the necessary antibodies are fused to the tobacco genes, infecting the tobacco with the virus. The plant then produces wanted antibodies that are subsequently separated from the plant when it is ground up.
The body’s immune system can vigilantly fight off the virus once the antibodies from the serum are present in the blood system. The treatment offers an artificial immune response to the virus, and the lab-made antibodies then fight the infection by binding to the Ebola virus. Since it is still in the experimental stage, it has not yet been tested in humans for safety or effectiveness and more study is needed.
ZMapp not a vaccine
“ZMapp is not a vaccine and is being designed solely for treatment of the Ebola disease; however the NIH (National Institute of Health) in the US is currently working on developing a vaccine. It is also supporting the Crucell biopharmaceutical company in its development of an Ebola/Marburg vaccine as well as Profectus Biosciences in its development of an Ebola vaccine.