FDA approves Inmazeb, the first Ebola treatment for children and adults

The FDA has announced its first approval for an Ebola treatment that can be used with both pediatric and adult patients infected by Zaire ebolavirus. The treatment is called Inmazeb; it is comprised of three different monoclonal antibody mixtures and works by targeting the Ebola virus's glycoprotein, ultimately preventing the virus from entering an infected person's cells.

Ebola is a serious and highly infectious disease that has caused multiple epidemics in large parts of Africa, most notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A total of four Ebola virus species are responsible for these cases in humans — and, unfortunately, the resulting illness is often fatal.

The Ebola virus can easily spread between people through a variety of vectors, including body fluids, blood, tissues, and any surface that may be contaminated with these infected substances. For this reason, treating Ebola infection is a high-risk activity for health care workers and anyone else who interacts with patients, underscoring the need for an effective preventative treatment to block infection altogether.

The newly FDA-approved drug Inmazeb doesn't prevent someone from contracting the virus, but instead prevents the virus from fusing with the host's cells, which is the means by which the virus causes infection. This is made possible using the three antibodies mixture, which binds to glycoprotein and prevents it from attaching to cell receptors, blocking host cell penetration entirely.

Nearly 400 pediatric and adult patients confirmed to have an Ebola infection were evaluated with Inmazeb during a clinical trial, which found that this treatment significantly reduced the number of patients who ultimately died from the disease.

FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's Office of Infectious Diseases director John Farley, MD, MPH, said in a statement:

Today's approval highlights the importance of international collaboration in the fight against Ebola virus. The urgent need for advanced therapies to combat this infectious disease is clear, and today's action is a significant step forward in that effort.