Dr. Rick Sacra, 51…a medical missionary who was treating patients in Liberia, became ill over Labor Day weekend and was flown to Omaha after the Ebola diagnosis was confirmed.
He received TKM-Ebola, manufactured by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, for seven days while being treated in the biocontainment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center…
The first set of Sacra’s blood samples that were sent to the CDC showed a decreasing amount of Ebola virus in his blood from his first through fifth day of treatment. A second set of samples also showed improvement. (If) samples taken Sunday and Monday show no sign of Ebola, a hospital spokesperson said, Sacra could be discharged.
Sacra was given two doses of what’s called convalescent serum, made with the plasma from the blood of Dr. (Kent) Brantly, one of two other American Ebola survivors…Brantly also had received plasma from an Ebola survivor…The serum, which doctors presumed was full of antibodies that could fight Ebola, was intended to jump-start Sacra’s own antibody response.
Sacra’s doctors cautioned Monday against thinking that TKM-Ebola might be a magic bullet against the often-deadly virus.
“We need to carefully assess all the treatments being provided to patients with the Ebola virus,” said Dr. Angela Hewlett, the associate medical director of the biocontainment unit. “We don’t know if it was Dr. Sacra’s own immune system, the supportive therapy we provided, the blood transfusion from Dr. Brantly, TKM-Ebola or a combination of all these factors that helped Dr. Sacra recover.”
The two Americans who have recovered from the Ebola virus were given the experimental drug ZMapp, made by San Diego-based Mapp Pharmaceutical. The supply of that drug has been depleted, however, and it will take months to make more. “We were pleased that TKM-Ebola was available to treat Dr. Sacra,” said Dr. Phil Smith, the biocontainment unit’s medical director.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals announced Monday that the FDA had authorized the company to provide TKM-Ebola for treatment under “expanded access” protocols…(which) allows doctors to give people with serious or life-threatening diseases who lack alternative treatment options an investigational drug outside of a clinical trial.
The company cautioned that the patients may be infected “with a strain of Ebola virus which has emerged subsequent to the strain that our product is directed against, and physicians treating these patients may use more than one therapeutic intervention in an effort to achieve the best outcome.”