[♩INTRO] More than eighteen hundred people have died
so far in the second largest Ebola outbreak in history. But doctors on the front lines now have a
new weapon. Two of them, actually, because a clinical
trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo revealed
two new treatments which can cure the disease. The Ebola virus kills about three-quarters
of people who don’t receive medical care. And obviously, that’s a lot. But what’s really scary how many still die
with treatment. The standard treatment is a drug called ZMapp, but it only brings the average mortality rate
down to 49%. So in November of 2018, researchers started
a clinical trial to test several new drugs. One was an antiviral compound called Remdesivir, which is designed to gum up one of the main
proteins the virus needs to replicate. The other two attack the virus with antibodies: proteins made by the immune system which grab
onto potential pathogens so they can be destroyed. Antibodies can be very effective treatments if you can get them to stick. The trouble with Ebola is that it can change
shape and mask itself from the immune system, so it’s been hard to
find an antibody that always works. So, one biotech company used special animal
models to develop three different antibodies, which they then combined to make REGN-EB3
or just EB3. Other researchers looked for solutions in
living people. They managed to clone an antibody from someone who survived an Ebola outbreak in the 90s,
and called that mAb114. The trial compared these three new treatments
to ZMapp in nearly seven hundred patients over the
past nine or so months. And unfortunately, the antiviral didn’t
do much. The antibodies, though—they were amazing. A single dose of the lone antibody brought
mortality rates down to 34%, and one dose of the EB3 cocktail dropped them
all the way to 29%. But an even bigger win came for patients who
were treated with one of these within three days of getting sick — between
89-94% of them survived! That’s so effective that the researchers
decided to call off the trial right there so they could give everyone the potential
cures. Now, doctors will start a new trial with just
EB3 and mAb114 to see how they compare, and both drugs will be made available to people
who aren’t part of the research. And Ebola isn’t the only deadly disease
we’ve gotten closer to curing. Just last week, the US FDA approved a new
treatment for antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis a critical step towards getting the drugs
to where they’re needed most. Tuberculosis, or TB, is a bacterial lung infection. And we’ve had vaccines and antibiotics for
it for years now. But about ten million people around the world
still get TB, and one particular strain is resistant to
our usual treatment methods, making it extremely deadly. The vast majority of people who contract drug
resistant TB die before they’re even diagnosed, and even with treatment, only 34% of them
make it. Plus, that treatment involves taking upwards
of 40 pills a day for up to two years, and can have some serious side effects. Obviously, it’d be great if we had an easier,
more effective option. But developing new antibiotics is really expensive, and few companies are willing to make the
investment, especially when the majority of people with
TB are poor and can’t afford expensive drugs. Luckily, nonprofits like the TB Alliance have
stepped up. And it’s thanks to their influx of cash that the antibiotic which just won over the
FDA, called pretomanid, was developed. A clinical trial of the drug which began in
2015 found that, when pretomanid was combined with two
other antibiotics, almost 90% of people recovered in six months. And patients only have to take five pills
a day! That overwhelming success convinced the FDA
to approve of the three-drug regimen. And when the FDA approves of something, international organizations often follow suit. But there are still challenges ahead. Bacterial infections like TB are more common
in impoverished areas of the world, so antibiotics need to be priced in a way
that poorer patients can afford them. And even non-profits with the best intentions
can run out of money. So they need to get manufacturers to agree
to price the drug reasonably. Those negotiations are going on right now,
so let’s all keep our fingers crossed. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
News! But before you go, there’s one more thing
I’d like to mention. It’s not exactly news, but if you’re the
kind of person who likes to jazz up your jacket or backpack
with an awesome pin, you might want to head on over to DFTBA.com/scishow. Our August Pin of the Month, which features
the Curiosity rover, is only on sale for another week! And I know you don’t want to miss out on
such a stylish, adorable tribute. [♩OUTRO]