The London-based Wellcome Trust has announced a £3.2 million ($5.2 million) grant in support of efforts to accelerate clinical trials of the most promising interventions for Ebola.
The grant will support a partnership comprising the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infections Consortium, the University of Oxford, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization, the Institut Pasteur, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, Fondation Mérieux, and the Global Health Network to rapidly assess candidate treatments in patients so those proven to be safe and effective can be adopted for use as soon as possible. The consortium will work with health authorities in West Africa to establish a clinical trials platform and assess sites where treatments can be formally evaluated in patients with the virus, while ensuring that the trials do not compromise patient care or staff welfare and safety. WHO will facilitate access to the treatments — which will be recommended by independent experts appointed by WHO — as well as accelerated review and implementation of the trials.
The grant is part of a public-private partnership supported by the Wellcome Trust to provide emergency research funding to help contain the Ebola outbreak, which to date has led to more than twenty-six hundred deaths.
"The Ebola situation in West Africa is an ongoing tragedy of immense proportions, and we urgently need to know whether any of these investigational treatments can save lives," said Peter Horby of the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health at the University of Oxford and ISARIC. "In essence we need straightforward clinical trials, as for any drug for any disease, but new ways of working will be needed to provide rapid and reliable answers in perhaps the most challenging outbreak we have ever encountered. Effective drugs will not only help individual patients but will also increase community confidence in the value of Ebola treatment centers, thereby improving our chances of controlling the outbreak through isolation and treatment of infectious patients."