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Ebola Treatment Clinical Trials to Start in West Africa

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An international health organization that has been leading the fight against the Ebola outbreak said Thursday that it will start experimental trials of treatments in West Africa next month.

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There is currently no known cure for the virus, which has claimed at least 5,160 lives in the current epidemic. Doctors Without Borders, along with three different research partners from Belgium, France, and the U.K., will be leading the trials, which will test two antiviral drugs in Guinea and an unconfirmed location. The third trial in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, will use the blood of recovered Ebola patients to treat sick patients.

The World Health Organization and regional health authorities are also collaborating with the research partners.

Conducting clinical trials during a humanitarian crisis is unprecedented but MSF and partners have set up the trials with exceptional speed in an attempt to quell an outbreak with a fatality rate of around 70%.

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“We need to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that these therapies will be the miracle cure” says Dr Annick Antierens, coordinating Doctor Without Borders’ investigational partnerships. “But we need to do all we can to try the products available today to increase the chances of finding an effective treatment against Ebola.”

The trials are expected to begin in December and initial results could be available as early as February 2015.

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Write to Naina Bajekal at naina.bajekal@time.com