Radiation treatment of eye cancers using iodine-125

Generally, public believe that scientific and technological developments in the field of nuclear energy in India are mostly confined to the strategic area and to nuclear power generation. Medical, industrial and research uses of ionising radiation, which rose manifold over the past few decades have not got due recognition.

Radiation treatment of eye cancers using iodine-125

At any moment, hospitals in many parts of the country are carrying out radiation treatment in one form or other on many thousands of cancer patients. BARC-made ‘BARC I-125 Ocu-Prosta seed’ is an ideal choice to treat retinoblastoma and uveal tract melanoma, two forms of rare eye cancers.

Unlike conventional treatment which involves removal of eyes with the tumour to save the patient, successful radiation treatment saves the eye and retains vision.

Since iodine -125 ( I-125) has a half life of about 60 days, scientists have enough time to transport the sources from its production site at BARC laboratories to the treatment centres at different parts of the country. Half life is the period in which radioactivity of a source reduces to half its original value.

Modelling the eye

Specialists model the affected eye of each patient by using computerised tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures. They identify the orientation of tumour borders relative to the surrounding healthy structures such as the optic nerve, centre of the eye etc by using ultrasound.

Using the imaging data in a dedicated software programme, they arrive at the number of radioactive seeds, their activity and their placement on the plaque to produce the ideal dose distribution.

Physicians use this information to fix appropriate number of I-125 seeds on a plaque of suitable size using a tissue compatible auto-polymerising glue. By accurately positioning the plaque, they restrict irradiation to the tissue where it is needed.

I-125 which emits low energy gamma rays helps to spare healthy tissues; it reduces side effects and related morbidity. Generally, physicians carry out the treatment in 5 to 10 consecutive days. BARC scientists have independently measured the dose distribution around I-125 seeds.

It was truly a multidisciplinary programme. Radiopharmaceuticals Division, Laser Processing and Advanced Welding Section, Centre for Design and Manufacture, Radio metallurgy Division, Radiological Physics and Advisory Division and external agencies such as Hindustan Machine Tools Limited, Bangalore and Titan Industries Limited, Hosur, collaborated in many areas to prepare the seeds.

Batch process

BARC scientists produce Iodine 125 in a batch process by irradiating 4 gramme of xenon-124 gas in the Dhruva reactor for a period of 15 days. Xenon -125 produced by the neutron interaction decays into I-125.

After removing from the reactor, they keep each sample for 50 days to ensure that I-126, an unwanted radioisotope which is also produced during neutron irradiation decays to negligible values.

“The need for technically intense operations in the handling of gaseous targets in hostile radiation environments, the transformation of I-125 into a chemical form within acceptable radionuclide impurities, and adherence to radioactive concentrations of the final I-125 solution are some of the key technical challenges during the production of I-125,” BARC scientists wrote in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2012, 51, 8575-8582), a journal of the American Chemical Society. This paper vividly describes the marvellous engineering and design procedures and production processes.

BARC-produced I-125 seeds are available in 50 micrometre thick titanium (titanium is bio-compatible) capsules of diameter 0.8mm and length 4.75 mm. Scientists subject these tiny seeds to a variety of tests mandated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board to ensure safety.

In September 2003, BARC supplied the first batch of I-125 seeds to Sankara Nethralaya to treat a four-year-old child suffering from retinoblastoma.

As on May 31, 2014, BARC supplied 1124 seeds to treat 95 patients from India and neighbouring countries. Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, PD Hinduja National Hospital, Shri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology Research/Arvind Eye Hospital, Coimbatore are collaborating in the programme

The patients treated so far are too few to estimate cure rates, eye salvation rates etc, though some preliminary results amply demonstrate the potential value of this treatment modality.

I-125 seeds are also useful in treating prostate cancer. BARC supplied so far 370 I-125 seeds to PD Hinduja Hospital, Mumbai to treat five patients. For treating prostate cancer, physicians implant I-125 seeds permanently in patients.

BARC’s achievement

In spite of extensive demand for I-125 seeds worldwide, only a few companies produce I-125 seeds, as the manufacturing processes are too complicated. BARC has developed the technology from scratch. The Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology (BRIT) has plans to produce I-125 seeds commercially. It has great potential for internal use and hopefully for export.

Source: The Hindu

First Human Trials of Ebola Vaccine to Start

The U.S. government and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will announce Thursday that they are starting the first human trials of a vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus.

First Human Trials of Ebola Vaccine to Start

The National Institutes of Health will sponsor the first trial of the vaccine, one of several being developed against Ebola. It’s fast-tracked the testing because of the outbreak of Ebola that is ravaging three West African countries.

Ebola has killed more than 1,400 people out of 2,600 infected in Liberia, West Africa and Guinea in the ongoing outbreak, by far the worst outbreak of Ebola ever seen. And the World Health Organization says those numbers almost certainly understate the true numbers of those infected and killed.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the NIH, has been working on an Ebola vaccine for years. The idea was to develop it to defend people in case Ebola was ever used in a biological attack. Previous outbreaks of the virus were always too small and too easily controlled to justify developing a vaccine quickly.

NIAID was working with a small Swiss-Italian biotech company called Okairos to develop the vaccine. It’s been shown to protect monkeys against Ebola.

Glaxo bought the company last year. The next step is to test the vaccine in people, both to see if it’s safe and to see if it stimulates the immune system in a way that would be predicted to protect people from infection.

The vaccine is made using a virus called an adenovirus that infects chimpanzees but not people. The virus is genetically engineered with a single piece of Ebola virus, a protein that the immune system can recognize, but which doesn’t make people sick.

Several other companies are working to develop Ebola vaccines, including Crucell, a small biotech called Profectus Biosciences, Iowa-based NewLink Genetics and Immunovaccine Inc, based in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Two American medical missionaries, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, were treated with an experimental therapy made by California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical. Three Liberian doctors also received the drug. One died and the other two have recovered.

Source: nbc news

Whole organ ‘grown’ in world first

A whole functional organ has been grown from scratch inside an animal for the first time, say researchers in Scotland. A group of cells developed into a thymus – a critical part of the immune system – when transplanted into mice.

Whole organ 'grown' in world first

The findings, published in Nature Cell Biology, could pave the way to alternatives to organ transplantation. Experts said the research was promising, but still years away from human therapies. The thymus is found near the heart and produces a component of the immune system, called T-cells, which fight infection.

Grow your own
Scientists at the Medical Research Council centre for regenerative medicine at the University of Edinburgh started with cells from a mouse embryo. These cells were genetically “reprogrammed” and started to transform into a type of cell found in the thymus. These were mixed with other support-role cells and placed inside mice.

Once inside, the bunch of cells developed into a functional thymus. It is similar to a feat last year, when lab-grown human brains reached the same level of development as a nine-week-old foetus.

The thymus is a much simpler organ and in these experiments became fully functional. Structurally it contained the two main regions – the cortex and medulla – and it also produced T-cells. Prof Clare Blackburn, part of the research team, said it was “tremendously exciting” when the team realised what they had achieved.

She told : “This was a complete surprise to us, that we were really being able to generate a fully functional and fully organised organ starting with reprogrammed cells in really a very straightforward way. “This is a very exciting advance and it’s also very tantalising in terms of the wider field of regenerative medicine.”

Patients who need a bone marrow transplant and children who are born without a functioning thymus could all benefit.  Ways of boosting the thymus could also help elderly people. The organ shrinks with age and leads to a weaker immune system. However, there are a number of obstacles to overcome before this research moves from animal studies to hospital therapies.

The current technique uses embryos. This means the developing thymus would not be a tissue match for the patient. Researchers also need to be sure that the transplant cells do not pose a cancer risk by growing uncontrollably.

 Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, from the National Institute for Medical Research, said: “This appears to be an excellent study. “This is an important achievement both for demonstrating how to make an organ, albeit a relatively simple one, and because of the critical role of the thymus in developing a proper functioning immune system.

“However… the methods are unlikely to be easy to translate to human patients.”  The field of regenerative medicine has developed rapidly. There are already patients with lab-grown blood vessels, windpipes and bladders. These have been made by “seeding” a patient’s cells into a scaffold which is then implanted.

The thymus just required an injection of cells. Dr Paolo de Coppi, who pioneers regenerative therapies at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “Research such as this demonstrates that organ engineering could, in the future, be a substitute for transplantation.

“Engineering of relatively simple organs has already been adopted for a small number of patients and it is possible that within the next five years more complex organs will be engineered for patients using specialised cells derived from stem cells in a similar way as outlined in this paper.

“It remains to be seen whether, in the long term, cells generated using direct reprogramming will be able to maintain their specialised form and avoid problems such as tumour formation.”

Source; bbc

Playing Video Game May Boost MS Patients’ Balance

An exercise component of the popular Nintendo Wii video game may help multiple sclerosis patients improve their balance by rewiring their brains, a new study suggests.

Playing Video Game May Boost MS Patients' Balance

No medications exist to preserve balance in MS patients, and some drugs make balance worse, said study lead author Dr. Luca Prosperini, a neurologist at Sapienza University in Rome, Italy.

It appears that patients who use the Wii Balance Board five days a week — moving to snowboarding or dance games, for example — may help reduce their risk of falls and boost certain brain connections, possibly because they’re coordinating their movements with a figure on a screen, Prosperini said.

There are caveats to the research, however. The study was small, and there’s a risk that patients could hurt themselves by falling, although they can play seated rather than stand on the balance board.

“Patients with MS should be encouraged to start using this system only under supervision,” Prosperini said. “Once well-trained, they may use it at home.”

Multiple sclerosis is a nerve disorder that affects how the brain communicates with the body. “Balance problems are quite common and arise due to the effects of MS on a number of functions that are important for balance,” said Nicholas LaRocca, vice president for health care delivery and policy research with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Among other things, MS can disrupt vision, coordination and the body’s balancing mechanism, he said.

Patients turn to a variety of strategies to support balance, he said. Canes and orthotic devices (shoe inserts) help some people, and rehabilitation can build strength and coordination. Some patients try electrical muscle stimulation to maintain or regain control of their muscles, he said.

Prosperini was inspired to study a video game treatment for MS when he saw patients in rehabilitation using a balance-boosting system that reminded him of an old Atari video game. Then a commercial about the Wii Balance Board caught his attention. The balance board, shaped a bit like a weight scale, detects a person’s movements and allows them to be translated into action on a TV screen.

Prosperini tried to get a grant from Nintendo to support research. The company wasn’t interested, he said, but he obtained funding from the Italian MS Society.

His previous research has supported the idea that patients regain balance when they use the Wii Balance Board. The new study aimed to understand what’s happening in their brains.

In the new study, published online Aug. 26 in Radiology, 27 MS patients were split into two groups. One group spent three months doing nothing special while the other group played with the Wii Balance Board for 30 to 40 minutes daily, five days a week. Then the groups reversed roles: Those who had done nothing special used the balance board for three months, while the others stopped using it.

Another 15 healthy people tried the system, too.

All participants had specialized MRI scans to detect any physiological changes in the brain.

The researchers found that patients regained some balance, presumably by using the board, and their brains actually changed. Using the video game was tied to improvements in the protective sheath around nerves, leading to better conduction of impulses between the body and brain, Prosperini said.

It’s not clear if other kinds of training might also help MS patients regain balance, he said. But video games like those that use the balance board might have similar benefits because they require patients to mimic movements that they see on screen, potentially providing an extra brain boost.

LaRocca, of the MS Society, said the study is valid but has limitations. For one, it’s difficult to interpret what the brain changes mean, he said. Also, he added, the research suggests that the improvements in balance aren’t permanent, requiring patients to keep at it to make the benefits last.

“Training needs to be ongoing, just like any other form of exercise,” LaRocca said.

While the study found an association between the video-game balance board and balance-enhancing brain changes, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Prosperini said more research is needed, especially since the study was so small.

“There is increasing evidence of the clinical benefit of playing with the balance board, and more in general with highly interactive video games,” he said. But researchers don’t know enough about why the patients are getting better, he added.

Source: webmd

Spatial attention skills don’t seem to decline over time

At least one part of an older person’s brain can still process information as well as younger people, according to new research.

Researchers compared the spatial attention skills of 60 older adults and younger people. Spatial attention is important for many areas of life, from walking and driving to picking up and using items.

Spatial attention skills don't seem to decline over time

“Our studies have found that older and younger adults perform in a similar way on a range of visual and non-visual tasks that measure spatial attention,” Dr. Joanna Brooks, who conducted the experiments as a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide in Australia, said in a university news release.

“Both younger (aged 18 to 38 years) and older (55 to 95 years) adults had the same responses for spatial attention tasks involving touch, sight or sound,” noted Brooks, who is now a research fellow in healthy aging at the Australian National University.

The findings were presented at a recent conference in Australia organized by the Australasian Cognitive Neuroscience Society.

“When we think of aging, we think not just of the physical aspects but also the cognitive [mental] side of it, especially when it comes to issues such as reaction time, which is typically slower among older adults. However, our research suggests that certain types of cognitive systems in the right cerebral hemisphere — like spatial attention — are ‘encapsulated’ and may be protected from aging,” Brooks said.

The results challenge current thinking, she said. “We now need to better understand how and why some areas of the brain seem to be more affected by aging than others,” she added.

This type of research could also improve understanding of how diseases such as Alzheimer’s affect the brain, the researchers said.

Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: web md

Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity: Study

Polio has been wiped out of many countries thanks to massive use of oral vaccine. But new research suggests trying a one-two punch where the disease is still a threat: Giving a single vaccine shot to children who’ve already gotten the drops boosted their immunity.

Combining vaccines boosts polio immunity

World Health Organization officials say the combination strategy could help finally eradicate polio.

Which vaccine works best has long been debated. They each have different strengths. Wealthy countries today use only injected polio vaccine, but the oral version is used in developing countries because it is cheaper, easier to administer and better at stopping virus transmission.

Thursday’s study tested nearly 1,000 children in India who had previously received several oral vaccinations and found giving a shot was a better booster dose than more oral drops.

SourcE: US news

‘Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery’

Infusing stem cells into the brain may help boost recovery after a stroke, according to a pilot study by Imperial College London. Scientists believe the cells encourage new blood vessels to grow in damaged areas of the brain.

Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery

They found most patients were able to walk and look after themselves independently by the end of the trial, despite having suffered severe strokes. Larger studies are needed to evaluate whether this could be used more widely. In this early trial – designed primarily to look at the safety of this approach – researchers harvested stem cells from the bone marrow of five people who had recently had a stroke.

‘Independent living’
They isolated particular types of stem cells – known as CD34+. These have the ability to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels. They were infused directly into damaged sections of the brain, via the major artery that supplies this area. Scientists monitored the patients for six months, charting their ability to carry out everyday activities independently.

Four of the five patients had suffered particularly severe strokes – resulting in the loss of speech and marked paralysis down one side of the body. This type of stroke usually has a high fatality and disability rate. But researchers found three of the four patients were able to walk and look after themselves independently at the end of the six-month period. And with some help, all five were mobile and could take part in everyday tasks.

‘Natural protection’
Though other stem cell treatment has shown promise as stroke therapy before, this is the first UK study to investigate using this type of approach in the first week after a stroke.

Scientists hope getting to patients early will improve chances of success. Dr Soma Banerjee, who led the study, told the BBC: “This is encouraging and exciting early research. “Now we need to look at a larger group of patients and hope eventually to develop a treatment based on this approach.”

But Dr Tim Chico, from the University of Sheffield, who was not involved in the study, said: “It is important to understand this is only the very earliest step towards a possible new treatment for stroke and does not prove the stem cell treatment improved these patients’ recovery. “A much larger trial will be needed to compare stem cell treatment with no stem cell treatment.

“Anyone who has seen the suffering a stroke can cause will be encouraged that doctors and scientists are continually exploring new ways to treat this devastating disease.”

The study is published in Stem Cell Translational Medicine.

source: bbc news

Genetics play a bigger role than environmental causes for autism

Genetics plays more of a role in the development of autism than environmental causes, according to new research published Sunday in Nature Genetics.

The study found that 52% of autism risk comes from common genes, while only 2.6% are attributed to spontaneous mutations caused by, among other things, environmental factors.

Genetics play a bigger role than environmental causes for autism

“These genetic variations are common enough that most people are likely to have some,” said Joseph Buxbaum, a researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and one of the lead authors on the study. “Each one has a tiny effect on autism risk, and many hundreds or thousands together make a significant risk.”

Using Sweden’s health registry, the researchers compared 3,000 people with autism to 3,000 people without autism to determine the degrees that common and rare genes, as well as spontaneous mutations, contribute to autism risk. The study authors also compared the study’s results with a parallel study of 1.6 million Swedish families that identified specific genetic risk factors.

Buxbaum says the presence of these common genes can only determine the risk of autism, not whether or not the condition will develop. And even though spontaneous mutations only account for a small percentage of autism risk, their effect is significant. “[Individuals] might have all the common variants there as part of their background risk, but it took this initial hit to push them over the edge,” Buxbaum said.

Chris Gunter, an autism researcher at the Marcus Autism Center and professor at the Emory University School of Medicine, says the findings of this study are similar to those reported in other studies.

“There is no one gene for autism,” Gunter said. “Instead there are many different genetic variations which each contribute a little bit to the risk of developing the group of symptoms we diagnose as autism.” She added that we still don’t know exactly how much these different factors contribute to the development of autism.

Once scientists accumulate more data on the autism population, Buxbaum says this new research could help develop a “risk score” – such as the one that exists for heart attacks – that would help patients determine the likelihood of family members developing autism.  “The autism field has changed dramatically,” Buxbaum said. “We now have immense power to find both common and rare and spontaneous mutations in autism. That’s really the exciting part.”

Source: cnn

New Ebola Treatment Tried on Americans Uses an Old Idea

The experimental treatment given to two American patients infected with the Ebola virus has its roots in a therapy devised more than 100 years ago — serum.

New Ebola Treatment Tried on Americans Uses an Old Idea

Back in the late 1800s doctors discovered they could sometimes save patients suffering from deadly diseases, like diphtheria and tetanus, by injecting them with serum derived from the blood of people who had somehow been able to fight off infections with those bugs on their own.

The process has modernized to be sure. ZMapp, the treatment given to Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol after they were infected while treating patients at a missionary clinic in Liberia, is made of three “humanized” mouse monoclonal antibodies, immune system proteins grown in genetically engineered tobacco plants that can home in specifically on a microbe.

But the concept stems from early treatments with serum, the clear yellowish fluid left over once red and white blood cells and platelets have been removed. It is rich in antibodies, basically holding a history of every disease that the donor has been infected with and overcome.

While the initial serum donors were human, scientists soon discovered that they could cure a variety of infections with sera from animals, especially horses. If you see photos of pharmaceutical companies earlier in the century you’d see that they were located on farms, says Dr. Arturo Casadevall, professor and chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Eventually antibiotics and vaccines displaced sera as therapies for many diseases, Casadevall says. But in cases where there was no other treatment, serum was still necessary. In fact, serum treatments are still used for rabies, Casadevall says.

In a new twist on an old therapy, scientists in the ’70s started isolating specific antibodies to neutralize diseases. And often there wasn’t just one antibody per disease, since antibodies can be targeted to different spots on a virus or bacterium. So three or four completely different antibodies might be aimed at destroying a particular disease.

Antibodies are made when the scout cells of the immune system — human or animal — spot a foreign substance. After gobbling the invader up, these cells break it into pieces and then drag the pieces off to the immune system’s main army so it can mount a defense against the perceived threat.

Once those antibodies have been found, scientists next have to find the specific immune cells that made them, says Kelly Stefano Cole, an associate professor of immunology and associate director of the University of Pittsburgh Center For Vaccine Research’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory.

Scientists then turn the immune cells into little factories — often by combining them with special cancer cells. The combination makes the immune cells immortal and also dramatically boosts their ability to produce antibodies, Cole says.

While a lot of the monoclonal antibodies come from humans, some still come from animals, including mice, Casadevall says. In fact, mice don’t need to even get the disease in order to mount an immune response, which includes the manufacture of antibodies against it, he adds.

Rheumatic diseases are routinely treated with monoclonals, and a monoclonal that neutralizes IgE is used in severe asthma.

“Infectious disease is where antibody treatments were pioneered,” Casadevall said. “But now there are dozens of monoclonals licensed for use in cancer. It’s had an enormous impact on cancer over the last 15 years since it was introduced. It’s been effective in the treatment of breast cancer and colon cancer.”

Why the two Americans were chosen for this treatment, while many others are sick with Ebola in Africa, was unclear.

“While the FDA cannot comment on the development of specific medical products, it’s important to note that every FDA regulatory decision is based on a risk-benefit assessment that includes the context of use for the product and the patient population being studied,” said Stephanie Yao, a spokesperson for the FDA

Source: nbc news

Ebola ‘cocktail’ developed at Canadian and U.S. labs

An experimental Ebola treatment given to two American aid workers infected in Liberia is meant to neutralize damage from the virus, says a Canadian scientist who works with Ebola and other pathogens.

Ebola 'cocktail' developed at Canadian and U.S. labs

To make the unlicensed drug, scientists injected mice with parts of the Ebola virus and then harvested the antibodies the animals produced to fight the virus. The drug, which hasn’t yet been tested in humans, is grown in tobacco plants.

Researchers are also working on an experimental Ebola vaccine to prevent infection. But unlike a vaccine, the pre-clinical drug, called ZMapp, is designed to be given after exposure to the virus.

“It basically neutralizes the virus so it can’t do any further damage,” said Dr. Heinz Feldmann, chief of the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s virology laboratory in Hamilton, Montana.

Feldmann previously oversaw the special pathogens program at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s national microbiology lab in Winnipeg and is an expert in hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Ebola, as well as other viruses.

“It’s a cocktail of antibodies,” Feldmann said. “If you go through an infection as a human being or animal or get a vaccine, you will have an immune response to something foreign to your body. One response is using antibodies, a portion we call neutralizing antibodies.”

Neutralizing antibodies attack the virus by interfering with its surface.

Research on the Ebola drug was jointly conducted in Canada and the U.S. The Canadian research was led by Dr. Gary Kobinger, who now heads the special pathogens research program at the national microbiology laboratory.

Kent Brantly, a physician who works with the relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, was recently given ZMapp to treat his Ebola infection. Brantly, 33, contracted Ebola after treating Ebola patients at a missionary clinic in Liberia.

A second American aid worker, 58-year-old Nancy Writebol, was recently diagnosed with Ebola after working at a missionary clinic outside Liberia’s capital, where she contributed to relief efforts by the aid group SIM USA.

Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, said Tuesday that while Writebol is still very weak, she is showing signs of improvement. Amber Brantly, the wife of Dr. Kent Brantly, thanked medical staff at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where he is now being treated.

“I have been able to see Kent every day, and he continues to improve,” she said in a statement. Some people infected with Ebola recover on their own or thanks to early, supportive medical care.

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said experts can’t be sure of the effect of an experimental drug such as ZMapp.

“Every medicine has risks and benefits,” Frieden said. “Until we do a study, we don’t know if it helps, if it hurts, or if it doesn’t make any difference.” Feldmann said there is always a risk the first time that an experimental drug is given to humans, which is why countries are provided with the pre-clinical safety data and have strict regulations before granting permission.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it cannot comment on the development of specific medical products.

“Currently, there are only experimental Ebola treatments in the earliest stages of development. Even though a drug is not approved right now, the FDA can still provide access to potential products through other mechanisms, such as through an emergency investigational new drug (IND) application,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said it was involved in the development of ZMapp, but the agency was not involved in the decisions to administer the treatment.

Experimental treatments

The World Health Organization says that as of Aug. 1, there have been at least 1,603 cases of Ebola in the current outbreak, which is centred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. At least 887 of those people have died.

As the American aid workers receive the experimental cocktail, three leading Ebola specialists are calling for experimental drugs and vaccines to be offered to people in West Africa as well.

The plea came Tuesday from Peter Piot, who co-discovered Ebola in 1976, David Heymann and Jeremy Farrar. They are, respectively, directors of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, and the Wellcome Trust.

“African governments should be allowed to make informed decisions about whether or not to use these products — for example to protect and treat health-care workers who run especially high risks of infection,” they wrote.

They also called on the World Health Organization to take a greater leadership role to allow experimental treatments against Ebola.

Source: cbc