rhesus macaques
Ebola drug found to be effective on rhesus macaques.Creative Commons

An Ebola drug has shown promising results in the treatment of the disease, with a 100% survival rate among rhesus macaques given a certain dose.

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals said its antiviral drug BCX4430 proved effective in the Phase I clinical trial at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).

Researchers looked to assess the effects of the drug on survival at day 41 of infection in rhesus macaques infected with Ebola.

Monkeys were injected with the drug between 30 and 120 minutes of being infected and the doses were continued twice per day for two weeks.

A control group was given a placebo, while other groups were given either 16mg of BCX4430 or 25mg of the drug.

While all the control group had died 41 days after infection, those treated with the drug faired far better. Four of the six treated with 16mg had survived at this time, while six of six – or 100% - had survived on the 25mg dose.

William P Sheridan, chief medical officer at BioCryst, said: "These results provide important evidence of BCX4430's potential as a treatment for Ebola virus disease. We look forward to completing the ongoing Phase 1 clinical safety trial of BCX4430 in healthy volunteers and working with our US.

"Government partners in continuing the nonclinical and clinical development of this potential antiviral medical countermeasure."

The news comes as two experimental DNA vaccines to prevent Ebola have been found to be safe in a Phase I clinical trial.

Published in The Lancet, the vaccines generated an immune response similar in Ugandan populations as those seen in US adults earlier this year – diminished vaccine protection has been seen with other diseases among African populations.

Experts say the result will provided a basis for a more potent vaccine: "This is the first study to show comparable safety and immune response of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an African population," says lead author Dr Julie Ledgerwood from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.