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Experimental drug ZMapp

(4 Posts)
noblegiraffe Sat 03-Jan-15 18:14:39

Does anyone know about this drug? I was just reading about the poor nurse in Glasgow and the report commented that she wouldn't be treated with ZMapp as supplies had run out. But the same was said about Thomas Eric Duncan and that was 3 months ago. Why have they not been able to produce any more of it in the meantime?

I understand that if it didn't work then they wouldn't bother and focus drug-making efforts elsewhere, e.g. vaccines, but if it didn't work why do they keep announcing that each new patient won't be treated with it as supplies have run out?

nooka Sat 03-Jan-15 18:42:51

The experimental vaccines/therapies are being used in clinical trials at the moment, with the hope that at least one of them will work and be able to be manufactured on a large scale. ZMapp is only in stage one trials I think (ie being tested on healthy subjects to watch out for side effects) although it has been shown to be effective in animals it's not yet known how effective it is for people or what side effects it might have.

There are a few different experimental treatments so I'm not sure why ZMapp is being called out in particular. I thought that the nurse was getting antibody treatment? It may be that that has (so far) been shown to be most effective.

AuntieStella Sat 03-Jan-15 18:50:52

It's not yet been proven effective.

And it takes months to produce batches because you actually need to grow stuff. This account from wiki describes it well:

"To produce the drug, genes coding for the chimeric mAbs were inserted into viral vectors, and tobacco plants are infected with the viral vector encoding for the antibodies, using Agrobacterium cultures.Subsequently, antibodies are extracted and purified from the plants. Once the genes encoding the chimeric mAbs are in hand, the entire tobacco production cycle is believed to take a few months."

The chimeric mAbs are the active bits of ZMapp and are specialised clones which simply cannot be produced any other way.

noblegiraffe Sat 03-Jan-15 21:20:03

Blimey, I didn't realise it was a genetically modified plant, I figured that they just made it in a lab. I wonder when the next batch of plants will be ready.

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