Scientists Make Progress on Ebola Virus TreatmentSkill Level 4, Published on: Jan 21, 2019
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization reported that at least 580 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had contracted the Ebola virus. At least 383 of those people have died from the disease.
The spread of the virus has been difficult to contain although treatments, including a vaccine, have improved. The ongoing conflict in the country’s east has interfered with aid efforts.
From the time of its discovery up to 2013, there was no treatment or vaccine.
Scientists, however, started studying the virus, trying to design better ways to treat its different forms. They succeeded in producing a vaccine. Vaccinations helped to end the Ebola outbreak that spread through three West African countries between 2013 and 2016. More than 11,000 people died in that outbreak.
At that time, treatment for the form of the Ebola virus that came from Zaire was developed. But it was costly to produce and is not effective in treating two other deadly forms of Ebola, the Sudan and Bundibugyo viruses.
A new combination drug for Ebola
Now, scientists have found one treatment for three forms of the virus. Their research produced a combination of drugs called MBP134. They say the treatment helped monkeys infected with the three forms of Ebola recover.
Also, the treatment requires only one injection.
When an outbreak occurs, we really don’t know which one of those three strains, species, we call them, is the cause.
If I have to make a drug that only works against Zaire, and another drug that only works against Sudan and another drug that only works against the Bundibugyo species, that is extremely expensive, he noted.
So it really has to be sponsored by the government.
In addition to the U.S. Army and the Canadian government, the U.S. National Institutes of Health has supported the research.
The treatment may not be ready to help people with Ebola infections in the current outbreak in the DRC. But countries affected by the virus could have the treatment ready to deal with future Ebola outbreaks if additional tests are successful.
Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.
contract(ed) (v.) - to become ill with a disease
outbreak (n.) - a sudden start or increase of fighting or disease
occur(s) (v.) - to happen
strain(s) (n.) - a kind or sort of something
species (n.) - a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants
expensive (adj.) - costing a lot of money
sponsor(ed) (v.) - to support, take responsibility for or pay for someone or something
Answer these questions about the article.
- How many people has contracted the Ebola virus last month?
- Did vaccines help the outbreak in 2003?
- How many injections this treatment needs?
- Does research have to be sponsored by the government?
Have a discussion on following questions.
- Have you ever been infected by a virus?
- Do you often go to the doctor?
- Do you use traditional medicines?
- What do you do when you get sick?