Experimental Ebola virus treatment developed at ASU

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ASU professor Charles Arntzen (Source: Arizona State University) ASU professor Charles Arntzen (Source: Arizona State University)
(Source: Arizona State University) (Source: Arizona State University)
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

Researchers in Arizona have been working since 2002 to come up with a vaccine or treatment  for the deadly Ebola virus.

It looks like their hard work is paying off. 

There's no cure for the Ebola virus that has infected two Americans now in isolation at an Atlanta hospital.

But all indications are that the patients are improving and Arizona State University Professor Charles Arntzen is one of the reasons why.

Arntzen and his research team developed the experimental treatment that's been used on the Americans infected with the Ebola virus. 

"Most of us scientists spend our career, maybe publishing papers and talking to other scientists at meetings and that's the reward we get," Arntzen said. "But to actually see something save a life - its beyond anything I ever anticipated. It's wonderful."

Arntzen says the drug mixture being used to treat the virus was actually created using tobacco plants and antibodies produced by lab animals exposed to parts of the virus. 

The drug is designed to boost a patient's immune system and help fight off the deadly Ebola cells.

It had never before been used on humans and is considered experimental. 

"Each antibody has the ability to bond to an Ebola virus and inactivate it," Arntzen said. "Once you get an antibody stuck to a virus, your body recognizes it and stops the virus from doing any more damage."

The professor said much of the funding for the Ebola virus research has come from the U.S. government.

Since the drugs are not yet approved by the FDA, they cannot be used in the United States.

Both Americans reportedly received their doses of the drug in Liberia.

Arntzen is hoping the latest breakthrough will streamline the drug approval process so his treatment can help more infected patients.

There is still no cure or specific treatment for the Ebola virus.

And there is no guarantee that these patients in Atlanta will recover but right now this treatment appears to be working.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. 

 

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