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Congo Start Trials For Drugs Against Ebola

This is Congo's tenth outbreak since the virus was identified there in 1976.

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Congolese and WHO officials prepare equipment before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, DRC, Aug. 8, 2018. Congo has now begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs. VOA

Congo has begun the first-ever trial to test the effectiveness and safety of four experimental Ebola drugs, the first time scientists have directly compared such treatments, the World Health Organization said Monday.

The U.N. health agency described the multi-drug trial as “a giant step” that would “bring clarity about what works best.”

“While our focus remains on bringing this outbreak to an end, the launch of the randomized control trial in DRC [Congo] is an important step toward finally finding an Ebola treatment that will save lives,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, center, speaks to a health official at a newly established Ebola response center in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA
Since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu province in August, four therapeutic drugs have been used to treat patients, namely mAb 114, ZMapp, Remdesivir and Regeneron, according to Congo’s Health Ministry.

To date, more than 160 people have been treated with these experimental drugs. Patients won’t be treated much differently than before, but scientists will now have a clinical trial framework to collect data on the three antibody treatments and the antiviral.

Congo’s Health Ministry said the clinical trial began last week in Beni with Zmapp, mAb 114 and Remdesivir. The test could be extended to other sites and include the fourth medicine, it said. The number of patients who participate “will depend on the evolution of the epidemic and the willingness of patients to participate.”

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A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Congo, with poor infrastructure, presents a difficult environment for administering these treatments. ZMapp is difficult to use; it takes three infusions, given over hours. If patients are treated with Remdesivir, their liver function must be analyzed regularly.

Because the data collected in the North Kivu epidemic is unlikely to be sufficient for a complete study, the ministry said that the clinical trial may extend over a five-year period to cover several Ebola outbreaks in several countries.

So far in the current outbreak in Congo, there have been 365 confirmed Ebola cases with 189 deaths, according to figures provided by the health ministry Sunday.

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– Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, minister of health of the Democratic Republic of Congo, addresses residents at the town all of Mbandaka, May 21, 2018, during the launch of the Ebola vaccination campaign. VOA
“Our country is struck with Ebola outbreaks too often, which also means we have unique expertise in combatting it,” said Congo’s Minister of Health Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga. “These trials will contribute to building that knowledge, while we continue to respond on every front to bring the current outbreak to an end.”
Also Read: WHO Ships Vaccination For Yellow Fever in Ethiopia

This is Congo’s tenth outbreak since the virus was identified there in 1976. The outbreak has been plagued by security problems, with health workers attacked by rebels in districts where the virus has been spreading. (VOA)

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Know How Higher Intake of Sodium Can Treat Lightheadedness

Greater sodium intake is widely viewed as an intervention for preventing lightheadedness when moving from seated to standing positions.

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"Health practitioners initiating sodium interventions for orthostatic symptoms now have some evidence that sodium might actually worsen symptoms," Juraschek said. Pixabay

Higher sodium intake should not be used as a treatment for lightheadedness, say researchers challenging current guidelines for sodium consumption.

Lightheadedness while standing, known as postural lightheadedness, results from gravitational drop in blood pressure and is common among adults.

Greater sodium intake is widely viewed as an intervention for preventing lightheadedness when moving from seated to standing positions.

However, contrary to this recommendation, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC) found that higher sodium intake, actually increases dizziness.

“Our study has clinical and research implications,” said Stephen Juraschek, researcher from BIDMC in Boston.

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Greater sodium intake is widely viewed as an intervention for preventing lightheadedness when moving from seated to standing positions. Pixabay

“Our results serve to caution health practitioners against recommending increased sodium intake as a universal treatment for lightheadedness. Additionally, our results demonstrate the need for additional research to understand the role of sodium, and more broadly of diet, on lightheadedness,” Juraschek said.

For the study, reported in The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, the team used data from the completed DASH-Sodium trial, a randomised crossover study that looked at the effects of three different sodium levels (1500, 2300, and 3300 mg/d) on participants’ blood pressure for four weeks.

While the trial showed that lower sodium led to decrease in blood pressure, it also suggested that concerns about lower level of sodium causing dizziness may not be scientifically correct.

Also Read: ‘It Has Been A Very Long Process, But Ultimately A Very Successful Process’: South Korea Agrees to Pay More for U.S. Troops

The study also questioned recommendations to use sodium to treat lightheadedness, an intervention that could have negative effects on cardiovascular health.

“Health practitioners initiating sodium interventions for orthostatic symptoms now have some evidence that sodium might actually worsen symptoms,” Juraschek said.

“Clinicians should check on symptoms after initiation and even question the utility of this approach. More importantly, research is needed to understand the effects of sodium on physical function, particularly in older adults.” (IANS)