The randomized, multicenter, controlled trial was created to evaluate the safety and efficacy of 3 antibody-based investigational agents for the treatment of Ebola: REGN-EB3, ZMapp, and mAb114, and 1 small molecule antiviral remdesivir.
Scientists were a step closer to a cure for Ebola on Monday after two of four drugs in a clinical trial were found to significantly increase survival rates, the USA health authority co-funding the research said.
The PAmoja TuLinde Maisha (PALM [together save lives]) clinical trial was launched on November 20, 2018 as part of the response to an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Contagion® that among people with low viral loads, only 6% of participants who received REGN-EB3 died and only 11% of those who received mAb-114 died.
Patients who were receiving the two drugs that are being discontinued, Zmapp and remdesivir, will now have the option at the discretion of their treating physician to receive the treatments that have been shown to work.
The drugs REGN-EB3 and mAb114 showed "clearly better" results compared to the others, according to the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB).
In comparison, two-third of the patients who got remdesivir and almost three-fourth on ZMapp survived.
They were developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola, which has killed more than 1,800 people in DR Congo in the past year. Efforts to control it have been hampered by militia violence and some local resistance to outside help.
But it is dwarfed by the West African epidemic of 2014-16, which affected 28,616 people mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The trial, which started in November a year ago, is being carried out by an worldwide research group coordinated by the WHO.
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, also hailed the success of the trial's findings, saying they would "undoubtedly save lives".
"The more we learn about these two treatments, and how they can complement the public health response, including contact tracing and vaccination, the closer we can get to turning Ebola from a terrifying disease to one that is preventable and treatable". "It gives us a new tool in our toolbox against Ebola, but it will not in itself stop Ebola", he told reporters.
"We won't ever get rid of Ebola but we should be able to stop these outbreaks from turning into major national and regional epidemics".
As of August 9, 2019, the trial had enrolled 681 patients toward an enrollment of 725 individuals from 4 treatment centers in Beni, Katwa, Butembo, and Mangina.
The company said the trial was ended early because its therapy, REGN-EB3, elicited a "highly statistically significant result" compared to Mapp's ZMapp, which was considered a standard-of-care treatment.