Australia bio-medical giant CSL says it is working to develop blood plasma products to fight Ebola.
CSL hopes to develop a means to fight the Ebola virus using the blood of people who’ve survived the disease – but says any such treatment is a long way off.
The blood plasma products and vaccine maker’s chief executive on Monday reiterated that the company was working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation on developing a treatment for the disease that so far has killed more than 4,500 people in the latest outbreak.
CSL is not directly working on a vaccine, but is investigating developing “hyper immune” blood plasma products to treat it.
Kent Brantly, a US doctor who contracted Ebola in Africa and survived, reportedly has helped save the lives of three Americans by donating his blood plasma containing antibodies.
“(What CSL is doing) is similar to the medical effect that you might have seen in the US,” CSL chief Paul Perreault told reporters.
“You collect plasma from Ebola patients that have recovered from Ebola, try to collect their plasma and then manufacture specialised hyper immune products that can be delivered back into patients.”
CSL already employed those types of “hyper immune” products to treat tetanus and rabies, he said.
“The Gates foundation contacted us because of our knowledge in the plasma business, but it is very early days.”
The difficult part was the logistics: collecting the plasma and getting it to a manufacturing facility, he said.
The global response to the epidemic has been heavily criticised, with Oxfam warning it risks becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”.
Mr Perreault said getting medical “gowns on the ground” was very difficult due to the lack of infrastructure in the worst-affected areas of West Africa.
In Australia, an 18-year-old woman has tested negative for Ebola after arriving in Queensland from the region.
Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young says, in total, 19 people are in home isolation due to Ebola concerns.
But the 18-year-old, members of her immediate family, and others confined to their homes after recently arriving from west Africa appear to be well, Dr Young has told reporters in Brisbane.