AMES, Iowa, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Experimental Ebola vaccines could be available and in use by the end of the year, with several companies developing medicines to combat the virus.
The vaccines are preventative, and not cures for the disease affecting western Africa. Nearly 3,000 people have died of the virus in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Nigeria this year in the largest Ebola outbreak since 1976. Up to 1.4 million people could be affected by early 2015, the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and prevention said.
On Aug. 8, the United Nations' World Health Organization approved the use of unproven or experimental drugs, to help curb the outbreak. By Aug. 21, two Ebola victims, flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, were declared infection-free -- regarded as a medical breakthrough -- after receiving an experimental drug called ZMapp. The drug was developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., Defyrus Inc., the U.S. government, and the Public Health agency of Canada.
Other experimental vaccines were developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and by New Link Genetics Corp. of Ames, Iowa. Because of the WHO statement allowing the use of experimental drugs -- a practice typically not performed -- the newly-developed vaccines' safety results could be available by November and the drugs could be in use by the end of the year.