6-Mar-15 11:00 AM  CST

ZMapp Headed for Human Trials in Liberia

While most of the news coming out of South Africa in the last several weeks has been mostly encouraging the hard cold truth is that the Ebola virus continues to be of major concern. Several trials for an Ebola vaccine have been initiated and there is great hope that one of the tested vaccines will reach complete Food and Drug Administration approval. Another pharmaceutical weapon against the Ebola virus will begin human trials in Liberia soon.

On Friday, the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease announced that the antibody-based drug ZMapp would shortly begin trials on 200 patient volunteers who had received a positive diagnosis for the Ebola virus. ZMapp first came to the attention of the public when Dr. Kent Brantly, a physician volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse and Nancy Writebol, also a medical missionary, became the 1st and 2nd people to every receive ZMapp.

ZMapp has been credited for saving the lives of Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol.  Launched as a collaborative effort between the U.S. and the Monrovian government, the ZMapp trial will divide Ebola patient volunteers into two different testing groups. One group will receive ZMapp and the other will receive a placebo. Some researchers and health professionals have come out against the trail, stating it is unethical given that all of the volunteers for the trail have been positively diagnosed with the Ebola virus. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease believes it is the only true way to determine whether the drug truly works.

Zmapp, which is manufactured in San Diego by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, is a “cocktail” of protein monoclonal antibodies. The antibodies attach themselves to the virus and render the pathogen of the virus useless. One of the major issues related to Zmapp is the length of time it takes to produce the drug. Since the drug is created from antibodies that grow in tobacco the drug can take up to six months to create. Many believe ZMapp can be beneficial in defeating the Ebola virus, but as it is with many things only time will tell.




Kroll, D., (2015), “ZMapp Ebola Trails Starts in Liberia: Is It Too Late?” Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2015/03/01/zmapp-ebola-trial-starts-in-liberia-is-it-too-late/, retrieved, 1. March 2015


Morin, M., (2015), “Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Begins Clinical Trials in Liberia,” Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-zmapp-ebola-20150227-story.html, retrieved, 1. March 2015

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Kelley Simmons
Source: Sandy Andrews, CPhT, BLS  

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