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. (Read more Ebola stories.)