A Canadian company testing an experimental drug against Ebola has closed down the trial and concluded they cannot say whether the drug helped anyone.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation had been testing the drug in patients in Sierra Leone, but said it was clear the drug wasn’t showing any benefit to patients. The testing was scheduled to end anyway.
“The Phase II clinical trial of TKM-Ebola-Guinea has reached a predefined statistical endpoint and enrollment has been closed,” the company said in a statement.
No one could say which treatment worked because none of the therapies were given in a controlled clinical trial — one set up to show whether patients did better with the treatment than without it
The drug uses bits of genetic material called small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs for short.
Viruses kill cells by invading them and taking over their machinery to force them to pump out copy after copy of virus. This drug doesn’t prevent infection, but stops the virus from replicating by attaching to its RNA.
Geisbert says it should be a successful approach. He’s afraid other companies testing drugs against Ebola will be scared away from moving forward
Trials of two experimental drugs have just started among Ebola patients in Liberia and Guinea, and
preparations for a third in Sierra Leone will start next week. However, as the epidemic fluctuates, scientists in some areas are in the unexpected position of potentially not having enough sick people to test the drug on.
The trial in Sierra Leone will involve the first-ever RNA-based drug to be tested against an infection in humans. The drug, made by Canadian firm Tekmira, contains a “short interfering” RNA (siRNA), designed to stop a particular gene from working. Tekmira has developed stable nanoparticles of fats to help administer these siRNAs, and they have been tested against cancer and a protein disorder called amyloidosis in humans. But with US biodefence funding, the company also developed one that blocks a key gene in the Ebola virus, stopping it from replicating.
It has passed small-scale safety tests in people, and intravenous doses starting half an hour after infection saved monkeys that had been infected with lethal levels of Ebola. Tekmira announced on 22 December that it would carry out human trials in West Africa with siRNA specifically matched to the epidemic strain.
Continue reading Tekmira Ebola drug trials
Nov 6 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Defense has exercised an option with Canada’s Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp for the company to make 500 courses of its experimental treatment for Ebola
Tekmira conducts its Ebola program under a $140 million contract with U.S. Defense. The value of the option under that contract to produce Ebola-Guinea is $7 million