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Gilead Developing Ebola Drug
Dow Jones News
Gilead Sciences Inc. confirmed Thursday it was developing an experimental drug for Ebola after a London hospital revealed that the treatment had been given to a nurse who had been readmitted with the illness.
London's Royal Free Hospital said British nurse Pauline Cafferkey, who contracted Ebola nine months ago in West Africa, was readmitted on Oct. 9 with an "unusual late complication" of her previous infection, according to the hospital website.
On Monday, doctors at the hospital upgraded her condition to serious but stable after she deteriorated to critically ill last week. A hospital consultant told the U.K. newspaper The Guardian that she was being treated with the experimental drug known as GS-5734.
Gilead didn't name Ms. Cafferkey in its statement but said its compound was being provided to a female patient in the U.K. The company said GS-5734 was requested by the hospital last week.
"It is very encouraging to hear that the patient in question is doing better and is no longer in critical condition," said Norbert Bischofberger, Gilead's chief scientific officer.
Ms. Cafferkey became the U.K.'s first confirmed Ebola patient when she was diagnosed with the disease on Dec. 29, just hours after returning home from Sierra Leone, where she had worked as a volunteer to fight the virus that has killed thousands of people in the region. She was treated at the Royal Free hospital for several weeks and discharged in January.
The drug, now being tested on humans, had shown favorable results in previous trials on animals, posting a 100% survival rate in monkeys who initiated the treatment on the third day of infection, according to Gilead.
Ebola is transmitted by direct contact with blood or body fluids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the 2014 epidemic was the largest in history. There wasn't a single new case of Ebola during the week ending Oct. 11 in West Africa, the second consecutive week of such a stretch in 17 months, according to the World Health Organization.
The outbreak began in Guinea, among Africa's poorest countries. The nation has one of the world's worse ratios of doctors to citizens, making it a fertile launchpad for a global Ebola epidemic that has now claimed over 11,000 lives in more than six countries, including the U.S.
Write to Ezequiel Minaya at [email protected]
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 21, 2015 13:25 ET (17:25 GMT)Copyright (c) 2015 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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