|What do you mean, we've run out?|
Credit: happy otter
It will take months to produce even a small batch of a promising new drug to counter Ebola, according to U.S. health officials. Mapp Biopharmaceutical’s drug ZMapp has shown some promise. The drug has been used to treat two Americans who have contracted Ebola.
But the company said Tuesday it has run out of supplies.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says it will take months to make more of the drug. Even in that timeframe, the company will only be able to produce less than a hundred treatment courses.
He said the government was trying to help Mapp “scale up” so that it could produce more of the medicine.
“Right now, when you’re dealing with Mapp Biopharmaceutical, it’s a small company of very few people, so what we’re trying to do with the government is to partner with them to help them scale up,” he said. “But it’s not going to be mass production … because the technology needs to be developed to make it faster.”
The drug comes from the Nicotiana benthamiana plant, which health officials said takes longer than a month to grow. Substances from the plant then must go through months of processing before being made into ZMapp.Upon looking at Mapp Biopharmaceutical's patent application (or what I could find with a 10-second Google search), I suspect that this is the relevant sentence:
Also provided herein are methods of producing antibodies or antigen-binding fragment that contain a substantially homogenous glycan composition using a plant or other eukaryotic expression system.Here's a much, much, much better explanation from David Kroll at Forbes. "Plantibodies" - I like it.
I Am Not a Molecular Biologist, but it seems to me that this is a custom technology to manufacture pure bits of biomolecules by using plants (instead of yeast or whatever.) I somehow doubt that there is going to be enough successful technology transfer or successful research to substantially speed this process up. Mapp Biopharmaceuticals is out of ZMapp, and we'll have to wait until they can make more and there's very little the United States government can do about that. Best wishes, fellas.