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Fri August 8, 2014

Tulane Ebola Expert Says It Is Time To Step Up Experimental Treatments

Signage in the Congo informing visitors of an Ebola infected area, September 2013.
Signage in the Congo informing visitors of an Ebola infected area, September 2013.
Credit Sergey Uryadnikov / Shutterstock.com

A Tulane expert in viral epidemics raging in West Africa says it’s time to expand experimental treatments. Some are showing promise.

Dr. Robert Garry is a professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane Medical School. And for the past decade, he’s been working in Sierra Leone and Nigeria on researching and developing treatments for Lassa Fever, which is similar to Ebola and slightly more deadly.

He’s part of a consortium with experts from Harvard, the University of Texas and other institutions funded through the National Institute of Health.

“Unfortunately in Sierra Leone the outbreak occurred just a few hours’ drive from where our research facility was and it quickly spread, and our staff and our researchers there found themselves treating large numbers of Ebola patients,” he said.

One of his colleagues died from Ebola.

He says there is concern that research conducted during an outbreak would slow the response. But he says the process of trying experimental drugs has to move faster.

“What we need to do is to figure out ways so that we don’t interfere with the response to the outbreak, but at the same time that we prepare ourselves much better than we are currently for the next outbreak, which will be coming.”

Garry says he’s returning to his work in West Africa in the next few weeks.

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