Gilead discloses development of experimental Ebola drug GS-5734

Gilead Sciences on Wednesday confirmed that it is developing the investigational treatment GS-5734 for Ebola after a hospital in the UK reported that a nurse readmitted for Ebola treatment was administered the therapy. The drugmaker said that GS-5734 is currently in early-stage development.

Gilead, which disclosed that it shipped doses of GS-5734 to the Royal Free Hospital in London last week following a request for compassionate access to the drug, noted that in animal studies, GS-5734 was associated with 100 percent survival in monkeys treated with the medicine three days after exposure to the Ebola virus.

Mike Jacobs, an infectious diseases consultant at Royal Free Hospital, noted that the nurse, who was initially diagnosed with Ebola in December last year, had not been re-infected with the disease since her prior treatment, but that instead, the virus persisted in her brain despite treatment, leading to viral meningitis. "The virus re-emerged around the brain and around the spinal column to cause meningitis," Jacobs explained, adding "she developed some serious neurological complications."

The patient was transferred to an isolation unit at the London hospital earlier this month after complaining of feeling unwell and later described by physicians as critically ill. Following treatment with GS-5734, the patient's condition has been upgraded to serious but stable.

"It is very encouraging to hear that the patient in question is doing better and is no longer in critical condition," remarked Gilead chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger, adding "we recognise the urgent need for treatments to address Ebola and we are working with collaborators to advance development of GS-5734 as quickly as possible."

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