5 Pharmaceutical Companies (and 1 Robot) Fighting Ebola

Mapp Biopharmaceuticals Inc., Leaf Biopharmaceutical Inc., Defyrus, Inc.

ZMapp is the only Ebola-targeting drug that has been given to humans to date. Despite the lack of clinical trials in humans, government agencies granted emergency permission for the drug to be used in Americans Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly, a Spanish priest, three Liberian nationals, and a British nurse. While the Spanish priest and one of the Liberians died of the disease, the rest survived. Eighteen out of 18 monkeys infected with Ebola and treated with ZMapp in earlier animal testing also beat the disease, although the survival rate went down to only 43 percent when the drug was administered only after the onset of symptoms.

Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, the privately held company that produces the drug, along with Leaf Biopharmaceuticals and Defyrus Inc., two other stakeholder in ZMapp, have now targeted their focus on making the drug available for large scale human testing in West Africa in early 2015. The plan for expanded production goes beyond the three firms, with U.S. health officials recruiting three advanced bio laboratories to submit proposals for speedy production of Ebola drugs. 

Ebola Gloves

At least one of the labs, which was established in 2012 with $440 million in government seed money and which is affiliated with Texas A&M, is submitting a proposal for large scale production of ZMapp in the near future. The three labs are part of a joint project to supply the country with emergency production surge capacity in pharmaceuticals.