A new Ebola drug has cured monkeys infected with the virus, US researchers announced.
Experimental drug TKM-Ebola-Guinea targets the Makona strain of the virus, which caused the current deadly outbreak in West Africa.
All three monkeys receiving the treatment were healthy when the trial ended after 28 days.
Three untreated monkeys died within nine days.
However, scientists cautioned that the drug’s efficacy has not been proven in humans.
Currently there are no treatments or vaccines for Ebola that have been proven to work in humans.
Thomas Geisbert from University of Texas, who was the senior author of the study published in the journal Nature, said: “This is the first study to show post-exposure protection… against the new Makona outbreak strain of Ebola-Zaire virus.”
Results from human trials with TKM-Ebola-Guinea are expected in the second half of this year.
Thomas Geisbert said the drug, produced by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, could be adapted to target any strain of Ebola and could be manufactured in as little as eight weeks.
TKM-Ebola-Guinea works by blocking particular genes, which stops the virus replicating.
The two-month production time compares with the several months needed to make ZMapp – another experimental drug, which cured monkeys with a different strain of Ebola than the one in the current outbreak.
Since March 2014, more than 10,602 people have been reported as having died from the disease in six countries – Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali.
The total number of reported Ebola cases is more than 25,556.
Guinea has declared a 45-day “health emergency” in five regions in the west and south-west of the country over Ebola.
The restrictions include the quarantining of hospitals and clinics where new cases are detected, new rules on burials and possible lockdowns.
The Ebola outbreak began in Guinea in December 2013.
In January, the World Health Organization reported a steady drop in cases in the three epicenter countries.
Renewed concern has been triggered by fresh setbacks in these countries – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
President Alpha Conde said he was declaring “a reinforced health emergency for a period of 45 days in the prefectures of Forecariah, Coyah, Dubreka, Boffa and Kindia” in a statement published in national media.
The focus of the virus “has shifted to our country’s coastal areas”, he said.
He added: “Wherever the need may be, throughout this period, measures of restriction and confinement will be taken.”
It is a first for the country since the outbreak began, Reuters reported.
On March 27, Sierra Leone began a three-day nationwide lockdown sparked by fears the virus was making a comeback in some parts of the country.
The southwest region of Guinea borders northern districts of Sierra Leone that are focus areas for the lockdown there.
On Friday evening Guinea deployed security forces to its south-west in response to reports Sierra Leoneans were crossing the border to flee the operation, an official told Associated Press.
Sierra Leone government spokesman Theo Nicol said the two countries had agreed to police the border so people with Ebola symptoms did not cross.
Since the Ebola outbreak began more than 24,000 people in nine countries have been infected with the virus, and over 10,000 of them have died.
Ten US healthcare workers are being evacuated from Sierra Leone after another aid worker back from the West African country had tested positive for Ebola and was being treated in hospital near Washington DC.
The evacuees may have been in contact with the Ebola patient and are being flown back on non-commercial transport.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said none were currently showing Ebola symptoms.
They will stay in voluntary isolation for a 21-day incubation period. If any start to show symptoms they will be taken to one of three hospitals which are equipped to deal with Ebola cases.
On March 13, the CDC sent a team to Sierra Leone to investigate how the healthcare worker became exposed and determine who might have been in contact with the infected person.
The patient is being treated at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.
It is the 11th person with the deadly virus to be treated in the US.
More than 10,000 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak.
A trial of brincidofovir – a potential drug to treat Ebola – has started at a Medecins Sans Frontieres center in Liberia.
The antiviral is being tested on Ebola patients on a voluntary basis. People who do not consent to it receive standard care.
Oxford University scientists leading the research say initial results are expected in the next few months.
A study involving a similar drug – favipiravir – began in Guinea in December.
More than 8,000 people have died from Ebola during this outbreak, the majority in the worst-affected countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
While a handful of experimental drugs, including brincidofovir and favipiravir, have been given on an ad hoc, compassionate basis in the last year, none has yet been proven to work against the virus in scientific human trials.
A huge international effort – involving the WHO, MSF, drug companies, the Wellcome Trust, and other global health organizations – aims to fast-track treatments that have been identified as potential options.
Prof. Peter Horby, one of the chief investigators at Oxford University, said: “Conducting clinical trials of investigational drugs in the midst of a humanitarian crisis is a new experience for us all, but we are determined not to fail the people of West Africa.
“We are trying a number of different approaches simultaneously as there is only a short window of opportunity to tackle this virus during the outbreak.”
Scientists at Oxford say brincidofovir was chosen because it is effective against Ebola-infected cells in laboratories, has been deemed safe in more than 1,000 patients in trials against other viruses and can be given conveniently as a tablet.
Researchers aim to recruit more than 100 people and will compare death rates at the centre before and after the trial.
The other antiviral drug, favipiravir, being tested by the French National Institute of Health, is already used to treat influenza.
It is offered to all patients who receive care at the MSF treatment centre in Gueckedou, Guinea, and early results are expected in a few months’ time.
Scientists are testing other drugs and treatments.
Oxford University and the company Tekmira hope to establish a further study of a potential treatment which aims to interrupt the genetic code of the virus called TKM-Ebola.
Another approach is to use blood plasma from patients who have recovered from the disease. Trials of this are under way in Guinea’s capital, led by the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine. This treatment is also being given to the British nurse Pauline Cafferkey in hospital in London.
And trials involving three separate vaccines designed to prevent people from getting the disease, are taking place in Switzerland, UK, US and Mali.
While a number of different pharmaceutical attempts are being made to tackle the Ebola virus, experts say other strategies – including early and adequate hydration and nutrition – are extremely important.
According to scientists, a two-year-old boy called Emile Ouamouno from Guinea – the Ebola victim who is believed to have triggered the current outbreak – may have been infected by playing in a hollow tree housing a colony of bats.
Scientists made the connection on an expedition to the boy’s village, Meliandou.
They took samples and chatted to locals to find out more about Ebola’s source.
The team’s findings are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Meliandou is a small village of 31 houses.
It sits deep within the Guinean forest region, surrounded by towering reeds and oil palm cultivations – these are believed to have attracted the fruit bats carrying the virus passed on to Emile Ouamouno.
During their four-week field trip in April 2014, Dr. Fabian Leendertz, from the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, and colleagues found a large tree stump situated about 165ft from Emile Ouamouno’s home.
Villagers reported that children used to play frequently in the hollow tree.
Emile Ouamouno – who died of Ebola in December 2013 – used to play there, according to his friends.
The villagers said that the tree burned on March 24, 2014 and that once the tree caught fire, there issued a “rain of bats”.
A large number of these insectivorous free-tailed bats – Mops condylurus in Latin – were collected by the villagers for food, but disposed of the next day after a government-led ban on bushmeat consumption was announced.
While bushmeat is thought to be a possible source of Ebola, the scientists believe it didn’t trigger the outbreak.
Instead, it was Emile Ouamouno’s exposure to the bats and their droppings as he played with his friends in the hollowed tree.
The scientists took and tested ash samples from the tree and found DNA traces that were a match for the animals.
While they were unable to test any of the bushmeat that the villagers had disposed of, they captured and tested any living bats they could find in and around Meliandou.
No Ebola could be detected in any of these hundred or so animals, however.
But previous tests show this species of bat can carry Ebola.
Dr. Fabian Leendertz and his colleagues say this must be a pretty rare occurrence though.
He said: “That is also obvious when you think about how many tonnes of bat meat is consumed every year.
“If more bats carried the virus, we would see outbreaks all the time.”
Dr. Fabian Leendertz says it is vital to find out more about the bats.
“They have moved into human settlements. They do not just live in the trees but also under the roofs of houses in the villages.
“The Ebola virus must jump through colonies from bat to bat, so we need to know more.”
He added: “We need to find ways to live together with the wildlife. These bats catch insects and pests, such as mosquitoes. They can eat about a quarter of their body weight in insects a day.
“Killing them would not be a solution. You would have more malaria.”
A number of bodies have been discovered by health officials in Kono, a remote diamond-mining area of Sierra Leone, raising fears that the scale of the Ebola outbreak may have been underreported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said they uncovered a “grim scene” in the eastern district of Kono.
A WHO response team had been sent to Kono to investigate a sharp rise in Ebola cases.
Ebola has killed 6,346 people in West Africa, with more than 17,800 infected.
Sierra Leone has the highest number of Ebola cases in West Africa, with 7,897 cases since the beginning of the outbreak.
The WHO said in a statement on December 10 that over 11 days in Kono, “two teams buried 87 bodies, including a nurse, an ambulance driver, and a janitor drafted into removing bodies as they piled up”.
Bodies of Ebola victims are highly infectious and safe burials are crucial in preventing the transmission of the disease.
The response team also found 25 people who had died in the past five days piled up in a cordoned section of the local hospital.
Dr. Olu Olushayo, a member of the WHO’s Ebola response team, said: “Our team met heroic doctors and nurses at their wits’ end, exhausted burial teams and lab techs, all doing the best they could but they simply ran out of resources and were overrun with gravely ill people.”
Health officials are worried that many of the Ebola cases in Kono have gone unreported until now.
“We are only seeing the ears of the hippo,” said Dr Amara Jambai, Sierra Leone’s Director of Disease Prevention and Control.
The district of more than 350,000 inhabitants had reported 119 cases up to December 9.
Authorities in Sierra Leone have decided to put Kono district on “lockdown” from 10 to 23 December to try and contain the outbreak.
During the lockdown, no-one will be able to enter or leave the district but they can move around freely within it.
President Barack Obama has again called for Congress to approve $6 billion in emergency aid to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Barack Obama made the plea on a visit to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he congratulated scientists on work towards a vaccine.
According to the WHO, 6,055 people have died in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), has again strongly criticized the international response.
It described it as patchy and slow, with the job of tackling the crisis largely left to doctors, nurses and charity organizations.
The MSF report said foreign governments – notably the UK in Sierra Leone and most recently China in Liberia – were continuing to build Ebola treatment centers.
However, these were sometimes in the wrong places and using under-qualified local staff.
Barack Obama said the strategy to fight Ebola was “beginning to show results”.
“We’re seeing some progress, but the fight is not even close to being over,” he said.
“Every hotspot is an ember that if not contained can become a new fire, so we cannot let down our guard even for a minute. And we can’t just fight this epidemic, we have to extinguish it.”
The president said it was encouraging to see declining infection rates in Liberia and called progress in vaccine research “exciting”.
He urged Congress to give a “good Christmas present” to the world by approving $6 billion in emergency funding.
Congress is at work on a massive spending bill, but Ebola legislation has become embroiled in political partisanship.
Conservative members of Congress are expected to challenge Barack Obama’s appeal for funds in response to the president’s recent controversial executive actions on immigration, helping more than four million illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, the White House said that the US was better prepared to deal with an outbreak of Ebola at home, and efforts to battle it in West Africa were progressing.
A network of 35 hospitals across the US is ready to treat Ebola patients and the number of labs used for testing the virus has increased from 13 to 42.
British scientists will trial a 15-minute blood and saliva Ebola test in Guinea.
The solar-powered, portable laboratory should deliver results six times faster than tests currently used in West Africa.
The researchers involved say faster diagnosis would increase the chances of survival and reduce transmission of the virus.
The trial will take place at an Ebola treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea.
Ebola is currently diagnosed by hunting for the virus’s genetic material in the blood of a patient.
The test requires dedicated laboratories that can keep the components of the test at very low temperatures.
Patients in Conakry will still have the proven test, but the new faster method will be trialed at the same time so the results can be compared.
The project, led by the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal, uses a mobile suitcase laboratory’.
It is portable, solar-powered and can be used at room temperature.
The project is being funded by the Wellcome Trust medical charity and the UK’s Department for International Development.
Dr. Val Snewin, the international activities manager at the Wellcome Trust, said: “A reliable, 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak – allowing patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as soon as possible.
“It not only gives patients a better chance of survival, but it prevents transmission of the virus to other people.
“This pilot study is particularly promising because researchers have considered how to make the test suitable for use in remote field hospitals, where resources – such as electricity and cold storage – are often in short supply.”
The foundation run by former Microsoft boss Bill Gates and his wife Melinda has pledged $5.7 million towards a program to increase production of experimental Ebola treatments in Guinea and other affected countries.
The program will focus on treatments derived from the blood of survivors.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also said the grant would be used to evaluate new experimental drugs.
More than 5,000 people have died in the current Ebola outbreak – almost all of them in West Africa.
There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for the Ebola virus. Hospital treatment is based on giving patients fluids to stop dehydration and antibiotics to fight infections.
There are several experimental vaccines and drug treatments for Ebola under development, but these have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness.
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) is to start clinical trials of some of these treatments in West Africa in December.
The foundation said that it would work with several private partners to develop convalescent plasma treatments.
The treatments would use blood donated from Ebola survivors who had been screened for diseases.
The liquid plasma from the blood, containing disease-fighting antibodies, would then be isolated and given directly to patients.
The remaining blood could then be returned to the donor, allowing them to donate blood at a faster rate than before.
Dr. Papa Salif Sow, an infectious diseases expert working with the foundation, said that the program would work with governments to “to rapidly identify and scale up potential lifesaving treatments”.
“The Gates Foundation is focusing its R&D investments on treatments, diagnostics, and vaccines that we believe could be quickly produced and delivered to those who need them if they demonstrate efficacy in stopping the disease,” he said.
Martin Salia, surgeon from Sierra Leone, who is critically ill with Ebola, has arrived in the US for treatment.
Dr. Martin Salia, who has US residency and is married to an American citizen, has been taken to a hospital in Nebraska.
Meanwhile France has advised its citizens not to travel to parts of Mali, following the deaths of three people there from the disease.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in the current Ebola outbreak – almost all of them in West Africa.
Sierra Leone is one of the three worst affected countries, along with Liberia and Guinea.
Dr. Martin Salia, 44, had been working as a general surgeon at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown.
It is not clear whether he was involved in the care of Ebola patients.
The doctor, a Sierra Leone citizen who lives in the US state of Maryland, tested positive for the virus on November 10.
After being deemed stable enough to fly, he arrived in Omaha on Saturday afternoon, November 15, and was transferred to an isolation unit at the Nebraska Medical Center.
“Information coming from the team caring for him in Sierra Leone indicates he is critically ill – possibly sicker than the first patients successfully treated in the United States,” the Nebraska hospital said in a statement.
Dr. Martin Salia is the 10th person treated for Ebola in the US. All but one – a Liberian man named Thomas Eric Duncan – have recovered.
Health workers treating Ebola patients at a clinic in Sierra Leone have gone on strike, protesting about the government’s failure to pay an agreed weekly $100 “hazard payment”.
The staff includes more than 400 nurses, porters and cleaners.
The clinic, in Bandajuma near Bo, is the only Ebola treatment centre in southern Sierra Leone.
In Mali, a nurse and the patient he was treating earlier became the second and third people to die from Ebola there.
Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola outbreak a global health emergency.
The Bandajuma clinic is run by medical charity MSF, which said it would be forced to close the facility if the strike continued.
About 60 patients had been left unattended because of the strike at the clinic in Bandajuma.
There are international staff at the clinic but they are unable to keep the clinic open on their own.
The staff, who are protesting outside the clinic, say the government agreed to the “hazard payments” when the facility was established but has failed to make any payments since September.
The money was due to be paid in addition to salaries the staff receive from MSF.
Earlier, the Malian authorities confirmed that a nurse and the patient he was treating at a clinic in Bamako had died.
The patient, a traditional Muslim healer in his 50s, had recently arrived from Guinea.
The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976.
Ebola was first identified in Guinea in March, before it spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. The WHO says there are now more than 13,240 confirmed, suspected and probable cases, almost all in these countries.
The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals will not take place in Morocco because of the country’s fears over the Ebola outbreak elsewhere on the continent, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed.
The CAF expelled Morocco, which would have qualified as hosts, from the finals.
The confederation did not announce a new venue for the tournament, due to take place from January 17 to February 8.
New reports claim that three nations have expressed an interest and the new host will be confirmed on November 12.
Morocco had been given until November 8 to make a final decision on whether or not it would host the tournament.
The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals will not take place in Morocco because of the country’s fears over the Ebola outbreak
The country had asked to postpone the competition until 2016.
Egypt has stated it will not host the tournament for “economic and political reasons”.
Qualification matches for the tournament will continue as planned on November 14 and 15 to decide which 15 teams will join the new host country for the finals.
Up to November 4, at least 4,960 people had been reported as having died from Ebola, mainly in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Morocco had expressed fears an influx of foreign fans could help spread the epidemic.
CBS News’s correspondent Lara Logan is being quarantined in a South Africa hotel for 21 days as a precaution after visiting an American-run hospital treating Ebola patients in Liberia for a 60 Minutes report that aired on November 9.
Lara Logan’s 21-day self-quarantine will end on November 14, CBS said.
Neither Lara Logan nor the four other CBS employees in South Africa have shown any sign that they are infected with the virus.
Lara Logan is being quarantined in a South Africa hotel for 21 days as a precaution after visiting Ebola patients in Liberia (photo CBS News)
Lara Logan, speaking in a 60 Minutes Overtime web interview from the room where the CBS crew put its report together, admitted to some cabin fever as she waits out her stay. She said the South African government had given the crew permission to work at the hotel.
“We wanted to try, as much as possible, to minimize our exposure to anybody while we still had to get our piece done,” she said.
“We were very mindful of the fact that this 21-day period after you’ve been in an Ebola-affected country is very important to everyone.”
The interview showed Lara Logan and one of her colleagues in a room stuffed with equipment.
“We haven’t traveled far from the room that you can see,” she said.
The 60 Minutes report detailed Lara’s precautions while in Liberia, including being hosed down with a chlorine solution, having her temperature taken frequently and making sure not to touch people. A CBS security worker traveled with the crew with the responsibility of watching everyone’s interactions to minimize any chance they could be infected.
A cameraman who was working for NBC News in Liberia contracted the virus but recovered last month. Nancy Snyderman, the NBC News medical correspondent who worked there, was asked to go into voluntary quarantine when she arrived home but that was made mandatory after she was spotted leaving her home. ABC’s Richard Besser was not quarantined upon his return from Liberia because the ABC team was judged not to have had exposure to the virus.
Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse who became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak, has given an emotional account of her ordeal as she left hospital.
Teresa Romero, 44, said she had clung to memories of family when she thought she was dying and still does not know how she caught the disease.
She had treated two returning Spanish missionaries who later died.
Teresa Romero vowed to donate blood to other Ebola victims until she “ran dry”.
In her first press conference after being discharged from the Carlos III hospital, she also condemned Spanish officials for putting down her dog.
She said they had unnecessarily “executed” the mixed breed Excalibur.
On her release from hospital, Teresa Romero read a statement, saying: “When I felt I was dying I would cling to my memories, to my family and my husband, I was isolated and I did not have any contact with the exterior except with (husband) Javier by telephone.”
She said she felt the disease “did not matter to the Western world until there was an infection here”.
Teresa Romero became the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside West Africa in the latest outbreak (photo AFP)
She added: “I don’t know what failed, or if anything failed. I just know that I don’t hold any grudges.”
Teresa Romero recovered after being given a variety of treatments including blood plasma from survivor Paciencia Melgar.
She said that she wanted to meet the nun and “give her a big hug”.
“I can never be grateful enough,” she said.
An antiviral drug was also given to Teresa Romero but the hospital was unable to say which method had been successful.
The nurse said that if her blood helped cure another Ebola sufferer she would “repeat it again until I run dry”.
Teresa Romero also thanked the hospital staff for their support and said it would have been “impossible” to save her life without it.
Hospital chief Rafael Perez-Santamarina told reporters it was “excellent news after a very complicated month for everyone”.
Teresa Romero no longer posed a risk and could lead a normal life, said Jose Ramon Arribas, the head of the Carlos III hospital’s infectious diseases unit.
Although she would be able to return to home, she would need “time for a full recovery from a very dramatic event,” his colleague Jose Ramon Arribas added.
“The main joy is that finally it’s been possible to save someone with Ebola and more importantly a colleague,” fellow nurse Esther Bellon said.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed some 5,000 people. The vast majority of the deaths have been in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.