July 10, 2016
1 min read

Drug trial to eliminate Ebola traces in semen opens in Liberia

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An experimental drug aimed at eliminating Ebola virus RNA in the semen of Ebola survivors is getting a treatment trial in Liberia, one of the countries at the center of the recent outbreak of the disease in West Africa.

The PREVAIL IV trial is being sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in partnership with Liberia’s Ministry of Health and the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences.

“We know that traces of Ebola virus can sometimes remain in a recovered person’s body and can initiate a new bout of illness in the survivor or be passed onto others, which could start a new chain of infection in the community,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a news release.

Anthony S. Fauci, MD

Anthony S. Fauci

“The goal of the PREVAIL IV trial is to see if the experimental drug can eliminate the traces of Ebola virus from semen in men who have survived Ebola infection. It is anticipated that this would decrease the risk of passing the virus to their sexual partners. If so, the drug would be another weapon in our arsenal against Ebola virus disease.”

According to the NIH, the 6-month double blind study will involve 60 to 120 Ebola survivors who have evidence of Ebola RNA in their semen and who were previously a part of the PREVAIL III trial study of Ebola survivors and their close contacts.

The volunteers will receive either the experimental drug, GS-5734, or a placebo once daily for 5 days. Over the course of 6 months, they will routinely provide blood and semen samples — with the semen samples being tested to see if Ebola RNA has survived. The NIH said volunteers will be counseled to use condoms during the course of the trial.

GS-5734 was found to produce no serious side effects in a previous study involving both men and women, although the NIH said some volunteers experienced a rise and then fall in liver enzyme levels. Volunteers for the PREVAIL IV trial will be monitored for kidney and liver function, the NIH said.

Disclosure: Fauci is director of the NIAID.