Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ebola: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Ugly
Just as in the classic movie, we begin with the Ugly. At present there are 7,178 infections and 3,338 have died from the Ebola virus. Almost all the cases in this outbreak have been in the neighboring countries of West Africa: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
No Cure
for this virus and like HIV, the treatment is cocktails of medicine that allows the patient to recover, but the virus will always be within.
Ebola can enter the body through mucus membranes of eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I have heard doctors say that you cannot get Ebola from someone who has not displayed the symptoms or from coughing and sneezing. This sounds like a lie because doctors do not know what causes Ebola, how it started and very little on how it transfers from one to another. Coughing and sneezing emit spit which can penetrate your eyes, nose, ears and mouth. So much for truth, although I understand the doctors are trying to squelch fear. This is one reason why travel bans have not been put in place. Doctors fear that potential victims would seek other ways to leave their infected area and escape over a border. That would cause a possible epidemic.
The continuation of the outbreak in numbers are staggering. It is estimated that at the present pace, and if efforts to contain are not successful, we are looking at a half-million infections by the end of January 2015. If it gets to that point, we will have a serious epidemic on our hands.

The Bad
The present numbers are not correct as there are unreported and under-researched possible infections out there. It has spread to the US and probably, will soon hit Europe, Asia and elsewhere.
The first treated in the US were two missionary helpers, Dr. Brantley and Nancy Writebol. The doctor walked into the hospital at Emory University because he knew that they had the experience to help. Their medical center set up an Ebola section 12 years ago in another outbreak. He received a serum called, ZMAPP. This is not a clinical drug, but it has been used with some success in Africa. He recovered.
Since then, another doctor, Rick Sacra who also volunteered in Africa got infected. He entered a hospital in Colorado because it too had experience with Ebola. He received some of Dr. Brantley's blood as part of his recovery.
Thomas Duncan is the first Ebola patient to develop the virus within our border. This is not exactly accurate. He left Liberia because he knew that he helped a patient with Ebola and maybe he wanted to get the best treatment possible. He arrived on September 20th and fell sick on the 24th. He visited a Dallas hospital on the 26th. He was released. Two days later, an ambulance was needed to return him there. He is now under treatment, however there are 19 other people being monitored because they have had contact with him. Of this number five are children.
Keep in mind that people have been treated outside of Africa before, as far back as 1994. At that time a researcher fell ill. He flew to Switzerland for help. There have been others who were treated in Spain, France and UK.
There are twelve other people in the US who are being evaluated as possible Ebola infections.

The Good
The role played by big Clint is residing in the only two drugs which are permitted by the FDA: ZMAPP and TKM-ebola.
The first, believe it or not was financed by the Department of Defense back in 2002. It is now a private company in San Diego.
I do not like to suggest stocks because I feel terrible if I am wrong. However, in this case, I am recommending Tekmira(TKMR). It is the maker of TKM-ebola. The medicine is based on the 2006 Nobel Prize in medicine by Andrew Fire and Craig Mello. They used RNAi, which is a field inhibitor with interference therapeutics which utilize the bodies own natural processes to defend itself from infection. A safe entry would be where the gap on the 30th of September begins, and I would wait until it closes before buying.
TKM-ebola is in clinical study. It was used on ebola infected monkey's and they recovered.
Some patients have been given this drug with most surviving. However, this was done outside of the clinical study in Africa for desperate patients.
The World Trust has given Tekmira a grant to develop more medicine and they will be using it in West Africa.
Finally, Thomas Duncan and the other people that are being monitored will have an answer in 21 days which in the past has shown whether a patient will recover or not.
There is no more ZMAPP available. It is made by Leaf Biopharmaceutical. One other technique will be used, the blood of Dr. Brantley or Dr. Sacra, but this is very limited.
The international community, WHO, and the US have all pledged help, but action speaks louder than words or the only words we will hear is, "Oh, no! Not me!"

I do have a position in TKMR.