To Fight Ebola, Experts Look to Blood of Survivors

Method used on Kent Brantly debated at WHO meeting
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2014 7:52 AM CDT
To Fight Ebola, Experts Look to Blood of Survivors
This file photo taken Sept. 2, 2014 shows the first participant enrolled in VRC 207, receiving a dose of the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md.   (AP Photo/NIAID, File)

As the Ebola outbreak reaches apocalyptic proportions, an experimental method to help fight the virus is emerging: injecting victims with the blood of survivors. American Dr. Kent Brantly underwent the procedure in July, though it isn't clear if it improved his condition. Yet with vaccines only just beginning human trials and untested supplies dwindling, thousands of survivors carrying antibodies could save lives. Their blood would first need to be tested for diseases, and the antibodies would need to be measured. Overall, however, "this is something that's fairly simple to do," a doctor who helped discover Ebola tells the AP.

The technique is one of several being discussed at a World Health Organization meeting in Geneva, and blood regulators suggest the method be studied. "You would need to come up with how much you should give, how long, and what's a safe infusion rate," a director at the US National Institutes of Health says. "If you know what the potency of the serum is, you could theoretically help the body clear Ebola out of [the] cells before it can do too much damage." Meanwhile, as early testing of a vaccine began this week, Johnson & Johnson says it will fast-track a vaccine targeting the strain in West Africa and begin human clinical trials early next year, Reuters reports. (More Ebola stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.