Deadly ebola virus could be cured using tobacco

New hopes for a cure for the deadly ebola virus have been raised, after a serum made from tobacco plants appears to have significantly improved two sufferers’ conditions.

ZMapp, which is made from tobacco plants, was used to treat US aid workers Dr Kent Bradley and Nancy Writebol, who contracted the virus when providing assistance in Liberia.

Emergency treatment
The drug was flown from America to Liberia, arriving on Thursday July 31st. As it had to be frozen for the journey, when it arrived ZMapp took a full ten hours to thaw out.

During this time, Dr Bradley, having been ill for nine days already, was reported by CNN to have concluded: “I am going to die.”

Within an hour of receiving the drug – which had previously only been tested on monkeys – Dr Bradley’s condition ‘nearly reversed’ with levels of success described by doctors as ‘miraculous’.

Ebola is usually characterised by a painful, blistering rash and difficulty breathing. Both of these symptoms were seen to significantly improve for Doctor Bradley. Following his rapid turnaround, the he has been transferred to an isolation unit in Atlanta, Georgia.

The following day the doctor was able to shower with assistance before boarding the plane to the US.

However, while the doctor’s condition improves rapidly, Ms Writebol is still in a serious condition, despite notable improvements since the serum was administered. After her second dose of the drug, her condition stabilised enough for her to be flown back to the US.

Two-thirds of the monkeys used in ZMapp trials survived when treated 48 hours after being exposed to ebola.

Professor Martin Hibberd of the London School of Hygiene and Medicine said that ZMapp, ‘mimics what happens during a natural infection and so can be seen as a relatively safe way of boosting natural responses.’

ZMapp’s US developer, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, is working with government agencies to increase production levels as quickly as possible.

Tobacco for medicinal use
Although the use of ZMapp is relatively new, the tobacco plant has been used for its medicinal benefits in India for years:

Skin Rashes and eczema – In India, tobacco leaves are ground into a poultice used to put on skin inflammations to help soothe and relieve skin inflammations.

Toothaches – This poultice is sometimes also placed in the mouth to alleviate pain from toothaches.

Toothpaste – Powdered tobacco is rubbed on the teeth for cleaning. This method is still used in India and marketed in stores around the country.

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