Saturday, October 11, 2014

13 of 15 Ebola patients survived after recieving treatment with a common AIDS and Hepatitis antiviral.

Gabriel Logan is a bundle of energy. Wearing a yellow dress shirt untucked from his slacks, he races around the Liberian government hospital compound in Tubmanburg, north of the capital, Monrovia. 

He also moves fast on the medical front, experimenting with his own idea of treatment for Ebola patients.

Back in July this hospital, which was the main medical facility for the region, was closed after 10 of the staffers got sick with Ebola.

"We sent them to Monrovia," he says. Of the 10, only one survived.

When the hospital reopened in August, Logan at first tried to refer any suspected Ebola cases to Monrovia. Clinics in the capital had no room for them.

"Everywhere is filled, so I said to myself, 'Well then, as a doctor I have to do something to save some of the people's lives,' " Logan says.

So Logan set up a bare-bones Ebola isolation ward in a small building behind the hospital. He also started wondering whether any of the drugs in his pharmacy might work against the virus.

That's when he decided to try lamivudine, an antiviral medicine used to treat hepatitis B and HIV, on Ebola patients.

There's no approved medicine on the market to treat Ebola, and lamivudine is not even on the list of the World Health Organization's experimental prospects. 

But Logan says he needs to do what he can now: "We need to save some of the lives of our people."

Of the 15 patients he treated with lamivudine, he says, 13 survived. Logan acknowledges that this is far too small a sample to prove whether lamivudine is effective. But that's not slowing him down.

"Do you expect me to wait until the bigger study is over?" he asks. "Then most of my patients would be finished. They would be dead."