The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved a drug which was tested as a treatment for Ebola during the 2018 outbreak. The approval of the drug is significant because it proves that effective research into finding new drug treatments can be done during an emergency.
The recently approved drug is called Inmazeb, and according to the FDA, it works by targeting the glycoprotein that is on the surface of Ebola virus. Glycoprotein attaches itself to the cell receptor and fuses the viral and host cell membranes allowing the virus to enter the cell. The three antibodies that make up Inmazeb can bind to this glycoprotein simultaneously and block attachment and entry of the virus.
Inmazeb was first tested during a clinical trial which ran between 2018 and 2019 during the devastating Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The trial, which was named ‘PALM trial’ compared the effectiveness of four different drugs each developed specifically to treat Ebola. Inmazeb, along with another antibody cocktail proved to be highly effective.
“This approval was made possible because of our steadfast dedication to facilitate the development of safe and effective treatments for infectious diseases as part of our vital public health mission.” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn.
First treatment approved by FDA for Ebola virus: Regeneron’s cocktail of three monoclonal antibodies, now known as Inmazebhttps://t.co/9h4LYQs7Xb
— Ned Pagliarulo (@NedPagliarulo) October 14, 2020
The significance surrounding the PALM trial is the fact that it was the first major attempt to conduct a thorough clinical trial during an ongoing disease outbreak. This study, along with other studies conducted during the Ebola outbreak proves that it is indeed possible to complete valuable scientific research during an epidemic. This goes against concerns from the World Health Organization, who at the time was worried that conducting a trial during an emergency would take resources away from sick patients.
According to the Verge, researchers are now using the lessons learned from the PALM trial in research being conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the antiviral remdesivir drug, which the FDA approved for emergency use was modelled after the PALM trial.