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Cambridge Biotech Company Asks Feds For OK On New Ebola Drug

Nigeria health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday. Nigerian authorities confirmed a second case of Ebola in Africa's most populous country that day, an alarming setback as officials across the region battle to stop the spread of a disease that has killed more than 700 people. (Sunday Alamba/AP)

Nigeria health officials wait to screen passengers at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria on Monday. Nigerian authorities confirmed a second case of Ebola in Africa’s most populous country that day, an alarming setback as officials across the region battle to stop the spread of a disease that has killed more than 700 people. (Sunday Alamba/AP)

BOSTON — A Cambridge-based biotech company is seeking approval from federal regulators to use its experimental medication on patients brought to the United States for treatment after being infected in West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak.

Sarepta Therapeutics says if given approval, the firm will, within a few months, have enough of the injectible drug — AVI-75370 — for up to 125 patients.

The drug aims to stop the virus from replicating, allowing the body to fight it off.

So far, Sarepta’s treatment has only been tested on monkeys, with a 60 to 80 percent success rate; it has never been tried on a human infected with the virus.

Chris Garabedian, the company’s CEO, told WBUR that this rate is promising.

“Non-human primates that don’t get the drug, 100 percent of them die in eight to 10 days,” Garabedian said in an interview. “The fact that we can get 60 to 80 percent surviving with basically a 14-day course of the drug is quite remarkable.”

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, and researchers have struggled to find an adequate treatment due to Ebola’s rapid pace of infection. The virus immediately attacks and replicates so quickly that when symptoms appear, it leaves little time to treat patients.

Sarepta Therapeutics began working on Ebola treatment in 2010, but due to federal budgetary cuts the testing was halted. But Garabedian is hopeful that the recent outbreak will lead to more funding.

According to the World Health Organization, the recent Ebola outbreak has killed at least 932 people and infected around 1,700 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria. Before this year, 1,700 Ebola-related deaths were recorded since the virus was first identified in 1976.

More than 200 new cases were reported last week alone.

Click the player above to listen to the full interview with CEO Garabedian.

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