Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The scary part of the disease has subsided but we are not safe. What are we doing to stop Ebola and who is our hero? You don’t hear much from the pharmaceutical companies. Why? There is one man who has invented the cure for Ebola and we should all know him and he should be honored by the world. It is believed that his drug helped to cure Dr. Kent  Brantly,  the first American to get Ebola. At the time there was only enough of the drug to treat 9 people. Why? Why wasn’t our billion dollar pharmaceutical business on top of this disease?

The worst Ebola outbreak has killed 9,000 people in West Africa. When it hit Americans, we realized how unprepared we were in America should the outbreak take hold on our shores. There was not any approved drugs or vaccines to fight the disease. It has been more than a year since the epidemic hit and clinical trials are underway in West Africa. One of the drugs to be tested is called ZMAPP and it was used last year to treat 9 patients. Only 9 because that was only the amount of ZMAPP available   at the time. To be prepared if an outbreak should happen again, our front line is in Canada’s National Microbiology Lab on a desolate prairie in Manitoba.

Inside are some of the most dangerous viruses in the world. We need to thank Dr. Gary Kobinger who has quietly spent a decade trying to find a cure for Ebola and who daily sealed himself behind layer upon layer of protection before getting to work. Who is brave enough to willingly expose themselves to the most dangerous diseases in the world with no cure day after day dressed like a mummy breathing through a tube like an astronaut? No one knows this guy and google doesn’t even post a picture of him.  Dr. Gary Kobinger is one of the world’s silent heroes that proceeds with his work without fanfare or the need for much acknowledgement. He is too busy doing something good to be consumed with fame or fortune.

The door to his laboratory is sealed as if in a submarine. The air is changed 15 times per hour.  It takes up to a year of training before anyone is allowed inside. Interviews are conducted behind bullet proof glass. He is working on ZMAPP which is the most promising way to combat the disease. He stores the virus in a tank that is minus 320 degrees. In a small vile he holds the virus that could kill thousands because of how quickly it can take over the body. Before using ZMAPP that cured the missionary doctor Kent Brantly, the drug had only been tested on lab rats and monkeys. Kent was actively dying so he took the drug anyway. Within 2 or 3 hours of taking the drug, he felt much better.

After his story got out there was a mad scramble for the 8 other doses of the miracle drug. Dr. Gary knows to make his invention be standardized it needs a Randomized Trial. A small clinical trial is being done now with great results. Success is now being done in West Africa but salvation is being done in Kentucky where more supplies are being produced. The product is from tobacco. Kentucky Bio-Processing is growing a type of tobacco not used for smoking or chewing. It is ironic that we associate tobacco with causing death but this strain is giving life. It takes six weeks to produce a supply of ZMAPP from the tobacco. They must wait for the plant to grow, then immerse the plant in a liquid containing a gene that makes special antibodies that tells the immune system to fight the virus.

The leaves are reduced to a liquid and the process is done 3 more times. In about a football field of plants, only about a dozen people can be treated from the amount of ZMAPP in the yield. So it is a long process involving a lot of plants but it has cured every single person given the product. 12 years ago at a small pharmaceutical company called Mapp Biopharmaceutical, they knew of this treatment for EBOLA . They had a staff of only 9 scientists and no funding. Since Dr. Gary is working with them now, our government is funding the production of the drug through a small agency called BARTA, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Now the United States has vaccines for Small Pox, and Anthrax, drugs for Botulism and Radiation. Again, God Bless America.

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