Shalom Life | August 09, 2014

How Israel’s Leading Ebola Expert Could Eradicate The Virus

And why the US military is investing in him

By: Dyana So and Maya Yarowski, NoCamels

Published: August 8th, 2014 in Health » Israel

Africa is currently facing its worst Ebola outbreak in history, with over 1,600 officially reported cases of infection, a death toll of 880 and rising, and a startling mortality rate of up to 90 percent.

One of the reasons that the Ebola virus is so deadly is that there is still no proven vaccine or treatment, and only a handful of researchers around the world are currently working on a cure. But while the World Health Organization (WHO) is busy raising $100 million for an emergency response plan, increasing numbers of people in West Africa are prone to or have already become infected with one of the most deadly and dangerous diseases.

So what’s really being done about a cure? Dr. Leslie Lobel, an Israeli researcher at Ben Gurion University and one the world’s few experts on the Ebola virus, is currently ahead of many of his international colleagues when it comes to discovering a vaccine that would make humans immune to the virus. But besides toting his own vaccine as the cure all and end all of the Ebola epidemic, Lobel has some interesting insight to impart on why this is the most serious outbreak in history.

How Israels Leading Ebola Expert Could Eradicate The Virus And Why The US Military Is Investing In Him

Dr. Lobel in Africa

The business of Ebola

According to Dr. Lobel, the present lack of interest in Ebola in medical circles is due to two main factors: big pharmaceutical companies not finding long-term treatments to regional viruses profitable, and the viral infections being overshadowed by more widespread diseases like cancer and diabetes. As Dr. Lobel tells NoCamels, “What has happened is that therapies have not been developed for infectious diseases for many years. Suddenly there’s an outbreak and people get scared. I think this is more of a wakeup call.”

Despite the fact that the United States has classified Ebola a ‘Category A’ potential bioterror agent, big pharmaceutical companies don’t deem an Ebola drug ‘profitable’, says Lobel, because according to their assessments, the disease affects a specific group of people in mainly impoverished countries with poor medical care. Therefore, these companies do not see profitable returns they would like for an Ebola cure, causing pharma executives to ask, “Who are they going to sell it to?”, as researcher Thomas Geisbert puts it.

This article was first published on NoCamels - Israeli Innovation News and was re-posted with permission. To continue reading this article on the site, click here.




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