Nancy Writebol has been given Zmapp, an experimental drug and is being taken to an Atlanta hospital blocks from the CDC.
But the experimental drug ZMapp, which Brantly and Writebol received despite the medication never being subjected to clinical trials, is getting a lot of attention.
Just last Thursday, Brantly’s condition in Liberia had deteriorated so badly that he called his wife to say goodbye.
But three vials of ZMapp stored at subzero temperatures were flown into Liberia. Brantly and Writebol took the drug, and their conditions improved before they evacuated to the United States.
The medicine is thought to work by preventing the virus from entering and infecting new cells. It’s a three-mouse monoclonal antibody — meaning mice were exposed to fragments of the Ebola virus, and the antibodies generated within the mice’s blood were harvested to create the medicine.
While Brantly and Writebol’s conditions improved after taking the drug, the serum shouldn’t be viewed as a miracle cure, internist and gastroenterologist Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said.
“Let’s be cautious. We don’t even know really if this serum is working,” Rodriguez said. “I’m glad now that these patients were brought to a hospital where so many tests can be done, where they can see the response of their body to this serum. We don’t know if these patients are naturally getting better, or whether the serum is really doing something.”