Liberian Ebola patients escape as ZMapp raises hope of a cure

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The Liberian government admits 17 patients suspected of having Ebola have escaped a treatment centre in the capital, Monrovia.

Soldiers and police are scouring the city and its surroundings. The manhunt was launched after the government went back on its earlier statement denying they were missing, and claiming the group had been moved to another centre.

The 17 went missing after the treatment facility was attacked and looted by a gang, who themselves may be at risk from some of the items they stole.

While on the Ebola frontline the news is grim in the USA where doctors are working flat out on trying to find a treatment there is encouraging news. The three patients treated with the experimental ZMapp drug are showing signs of improvement.

“The ZMapp drug is really fairly simple. It is three antibodies, produced in a tobacco plant, and then we grind up the tobacco plants and purify the antibodies so that they essentially look like antibodies that would come from human serum,” says Arizona State University’s Professor Charles Arntzen.

The problem is the Californian drugs company has used every drop of its revolutionary treatment, and making more without regulatory approval is a risk, despite the WHO pleading for any treatment, as soon as possible.