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CDC: Experimental Serum Used To Treat US Ebola Patients In Limited Supply

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(File photo of Ebola health workers. Photo credit: CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)

(File photo of Ebola health workers. Photo credit: CELLOU BINANI/AFP/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta/AP) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “experimental serum” that two American patients with Ebola received, is in very limited supply and won’t be available for general use.

Two American health care workers reportedly received the serum after being infected with the deadly virus while working to combat the outbreak currently taking place in West Africa. Samaritan’s Purse, an employer of one of the patients, arranged to have the serum flown to Liberia. Both patients are now receiving treatment at Emory University Hospital in a special unit.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. developed the serum called ZMapp. It contains three monoclonal antibodies that are molecules that bind to a protein of a foreign object, which in this case is the Ebola virus.

A clinical trial to test ZMapp was being planned by Mapp Biopharmaceutical, however the company does not have the capacity to make large quantities of the treatment, the LiveScience reported.

“The manufacturer reports that there is a very limited supply, so it cannot be purchased and is not available for general use,” the agency said in a recently posted “Questions and Answers” page on the experimental treatment.

The CDC said that it is too early to tell if the serum was effective on the two American patients.

It’s impossible to know whether the drug saved these workers, CDC Director Tom Frieden emphasized. “Every medicine has risks and benefits,” he said to reporters at a health symposium in Kentucky. “Until we do a study, we don’t know if it helps, if it hurts, or if it doesn’t make any difference.”

If the treatment works, it could create pressure to speed through testing and production to help contain the disease in Africa.

“Some patients infected with Ebola virus do get better spontaneously or with supportive care,” the CDC said.

There is currently no specific treatment or cure for the Ebola virus, nor is there a vaccine to prevent the infection.

It’s impossible to know whether the drug saved these workers, CDC Director Tom Frieden emphasized. “Every medicine has risks and benefits,” he said to reporters at a health symposium in Kentucky. “Until we do a study, we don’t know if it helps, if it hurts, or if it doesn’t make any difference.”

If the treatment works, it could create pressure to speed through testing and production to help contain the disease in Africa.

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