FDA Authorises Use of Ebola Virus Test; Experimental Drug Tested on Monkeys Yields 'Promising Results'

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Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, Sierra Leone
Health workers carry the body of an Ebola virus victim in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25, 2014. The Ebola outbreak has killed 467 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since February, making it the largest and deadliest ever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). West African states lack the resources to battle the world's worst outbreak of Ebola and deep cultural suspicions about the disease remain a big obstacle to halting its spread, ministers said on Wednesday. Picture taken June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Umaru Fofana (SIERRA LEONE - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) Reuters

The United States' Food and Drug Administration has authorised the unapproved Ebola virus test for use to detect the deadly virus under a special emergency-use provision. According to reports, an official Ebola virus vaccine may be take a long time with results more likely in 2015.

The U.S. military developed the Ebola virus test to determine if a person is infected with the Zaire strain of Ebola which has killed 932 people in West Africa and infected at least 1,711.

In a statement, FDA spokesperson Stephanie Yao said the Ebola virus test is designed for individual use including the Department of Defence personnel and responders who may be at risk due to the outbreak.

She added the Ebola virus test will be used on people showing symptoms of the Zaire strain, at risk for exposure or those who have already been exposed to the virus.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease head Dr Anthony Fauci said the FDA should fast-track the testing of potential Ebola vaccines since a few were already in the pipeline. Health experts said vaccines work by exposing the human body to foreign substances that simulate an attack. This will "train" the immune system to defend the body from the real threats like the Ebola virus.

Vaccines should be allowed to work properly when it is administered before the body is infected. It must be given time to work before it becomes effective.

Reports said the experimental vaccine developed by an arm of the National Institutes of Health is the furthest ahead in development. It was designed by the Vaccine Research Centre and tested on monkeys. Dr Fauci said the results were "quite impressive."

The first phase of clinical trials is expected in late September and will run until January. Scientists will administer the Ebola experimental vaccine to humans to determine if it is safe. Researchers hope those who will be vaccinated will develop special antibodies to prevent the virus from entering the human body's cells.

If the vaccine will prove to be safe, larger clinical trials will commence before the vaccine is cleared for production. 

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