Which Manufacturers Are Racing to Produce Ebola Drugs

Indicator proteins glow under ultraviolet light on the leaves of the nicotiana benthamiana plant. Icon Genetics has developed a process to produce proteins and enzymes via the nicotiana benthamiana plant that will be used in the production of antibodies for ZMapp, which is being heralded as a possible cure to the ebola virus. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Which Manufacturers Are Racing to Produce Ebola Drugs?

In addition to Tekmira, Mapp Biopharmaceutical and Chimerix, which are increasing production of drugs that have been use to treat patients, other companies are looking around for potential useful compounds. 

Tekmira, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. and Chimerix Inc., are three companies that have provided experimental treatments to patients both in the West and in Africa, according to Peter Loftus and Betsy MacKay, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.  

Tekmira, whose drug is TKM-Ebola, has taken steps to increase production and waiting to hear if it is chosen for trails in West Africa. If that happens the company said it expects to have a sufficient supply.

Meanwhile Kentucky BioProcessing, owned by Reynolds American, is ramping up production of Mapp Biopharmaceutical’s compound ZMapp that was given to two American Ebola survivors.

Clincial trials of this drug could begin in West Africa, in January or February, according to Alan Magill, who is overseeing the Gates Ebola-related investments, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Another player is Chimerix, whose drug brincidofovir has been given to at least two Ebola-infected patients: Thomas Eric Duncan, a patient in Dallas who died; and Ashoka Mukpo, who is being treated in Nebraska.

Chimerix, which said it plans to begin a clinical trial “immediately” in Ebola-infected patients in the U.S. and Europe, said that it has an adequate supply of the tablets, and it plans to continue making the drug available on an emergency basis in the U.S. and Europe. The company is also working with the U.S. government and international organizations to figure out how to bring the drug to West African theater.

Other companies who haven’t been involved in Ebola researching are searching their inventories to see if any of the chemical compounds they possess, including experimental antivirals, would be effective. That includes Merck & Co. (IW 500/31), and CSL, a maker of plasma-based therapies, who said it is exploring whether it can develop a plasma treatment, at the request of the Gates Foundation.

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