By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - The experimental Ebola drug ZMapp cured all 18 of the lab monkeys infected with the deadly virus, including those suffering the fever and hemorrhaging characteristic of the disease and just hours from death, scientists reported on Friday. No other experimental Ebola therapy has ever shown success in primates when given that long after infection; ZMapp, produced by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, has never been scientifically tested in people, and the current study was the first in primates. The success is therefore a "monumental achievement," virologist Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Branch wrote in a commentary on the paper, published online in Nature.
The Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 1,500 people across West Africa spread to a fifth country in the region on Friday with the first confirmed case of the deadly virus in Senegal. The case marks the first time a new country has been hit by the outbreak since July and comes a day after the World Health Organization warned the number of infections was increasing rapidly. On Friday, scientists writing in the journal Nature said 18 lab monkeys given high doses of the Ebola virus fully recovered after being given the prototype drug ZMapp, which reversed bleeding in the animals. ZMapp has been given to a handful of frontline health workers who have contracted Ebola, two of whom have recovered, and two of whom have died.