Monrovia — When the World Health Organization declared the containment of the most recent outbreak of Ebola in Liberia on June 9, 2016, the country began a 90-day period of heightened surveillance to ensure that other new cases are identified and contained.
The team responsible for the Ebola Natural History Study, the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL), a U.S.-Liberia joint Clinical Research Partnership has declared the opening of the PREVAIL IV.
PREVAIL IV is a treatment trial for men who have survived the deadly virus but continue to show evidence of Ebola virus genetic material, RNA, in their semen.
Giving an update on the history of the Ebola Virus Study at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing on Thursday, the principal Investigator of the Ebola Nature History Study, Dr. Masoka Fallah, said because of the persistence of the virus in men who have survived Ebola, they were able to discover a new infection that has never been noticed since the launch of the study.
"The objective we had in mind when we launched the study was the issue of persistence of virus."
"Basically when Ebola started in Liberia, the dormancy was supposed to start after ninety days following which one could resume sex. Now, we have a situation where after one hundred and ninety-nine days, we have discovered an infection that has not been recorded before", Dr. Fallah said.
"Later on we saw a study on an American who survived the virus but went to the hospital after three months and determined that the virus was in his eye".
The principal Investigator of the Ebola Nature History Study recorded that the recent outbreak in Guinea which extended to Liberia was due to the persistence of the virus.
Said Dr. Fallah: "We do know very recently also that the virus in Guinea that ended up coming to Liberia was due to a persistence virus. Someone that tried to keep save from sex for almost ten months they protect themselves in the thirteen month they was able to have sex and they began the source of the disease."
PREVAIL trial is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the Ministry of Health of Liberia and the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences. The six-month study will enroll 60 to 120 EVD survivors whose semen has evidence of Ebola virus RNA prior to their enrollment.
Participants in the double-blind trial will receive investigational drug GS-5734, manufactured by Gilead Sciences. The GS-5734 drug was used before in the United States of America and Guinea. It cured the animals of Ebola virus disease by stopping the virus from making copies of itself.
Also speaking on the investigational drug to reduce or eliminate the virus that is still found in the semen of some male survivors, the co-investigator of the on the persistent Ebola virus study in Liberia, Dr. Dehkontee Gayedyu-Dennis, said the study of male survivors which started on July 4 at the JFK medical center is designed to find out if an investigational drugs can safely get rid of; or reduce the amount of the virus, something she said may persist in the semen of some male Ebola survivors.
Dr. Dennis added: "the Ebola virus may stay be hidden in certain parts of the body and the body fluids, such as semen, even after a person recovers from Ebola. The virus can persist because the body's immune system cannot easily reach and fight off the virus that is hiding in these protected places".