Experimental Treatments That Could Help Stop Ebola

PHOTO: This undated file image made available by the CDC shows the Ebola Virus. PlayCDC, File/AP Photo
WATCH Health Officials on High Alert After First US Ebola Case

intro: The worst-ever Ebola outbreak has now stretched into the U.S. after a man who had recently been in Liberia was diagnosed with the disease in Dallas.

To help treat the infected patient in Dallas, doctors will use supportive care such as fluids and oxygen to help the patient. While there is no proven cure for Ebola, a variety of pharmaceutical companies have been developing different treatments to fight the deadly virus.

In at least three of the four past cases where Americans were brought to the U.S. for treatment, doctors have resorted to experimental treatments to try and stop the virus that has had a fatality rate of around 60 percent.

Health Officials On High Alert after Ebola Found in U.S.

Ebola Patient in Dallas Exposed School-Aged Children

What's Being Done to Stop Ebola From Spreading in U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not say whether the unnamed patient in Dallas would receive any of these experimental treatments.

"We are working with the hospital to explore options for experimental therapies -- for patient privacy reasons, we will not discuss treatment," the CDC told ABC News in a statement.

To better understand how doctors can approach treating the deadly disease, here is a list of some experimental treatments in the works.

quicklist: 1 category: The Experimental Treatments Designed to Fight Ebola title: ZMapp url: text: The most well-known of the experimental treatments was used on the first two American health workers to be diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia.

Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were the first humans to be given the drug, which had previously been tested only in primates. The drug is a mix of three synthetic antibodies that can attack the structure of the Ebola virus.

The antibodies specifically attack the virus' spike-like protrusions to invade cells and replicate. It remains unclear whether the drugs helped the patients get over their infection due to the small number of people given the drug.

Of the six people known to have been given the drug, four survived the virus.

In August, Mapp Pharmaceuticals announced the supply of ZMapp had been exhausted and that it would take weeks to months to manufacture more of the medication. media: 25073030

quicklist: 2 category: The Experimental Treatments Designed to Fight Ebola title: Convalescent Serum url: text: When a third American health worker, Dr. Rick Sacra, became infected with Ebola, doctors not only turned to cutting-edge medical technology, but an older method to help the 51-year-old fight off the virus.

Doctors took plasma from the blood of Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly and administered it to Sacra in the hopes Ebola antibodies would be passed on from Brantly to Sacra. The process is called a convalescent serum.

While there was no hard evidence that the plasma donation could help a patient with Ebola, Dr. Phillip Smith, who treated Sacra as the head of the bio-containment unit at the Nebraska Medical Center, said it was a fairly safe procedure and there was a chance it provided Sacra critical time to allow his immune system to fight off the Ebola virus.

"We're hoping it [would] jump-start his immunity. To survive [Ebola] you have to build up enough antibodies to [fight the virus]," Smith told reporters. "We were hoping to buy him some time, to give his immune system time to battle the disease." media: 25755960

quicklist: 3 category: The Experimental Treatments Designed to Fight Ebola title: TKM-Ebola url: text: The Canadian-based pharmaceutical company Tekmira was the second experimental Ebola therapy to be used in the U.S. after the ZMapp supply was exhausted.

Dr. Rick Sacra was given a dose of the Tekmira drug, TKM-Ebola, when he arrived in Nebraska for treatment earlier this month.

Thomas Geisbert, a virologist studying Ebola at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, worked on the production of TKM-Ebola and said that the medication works by targeting a specific region of the virus' genetic material and preventing it from making more copies of itself.

"It interferes with the virus genetic blueprint," Geisbert explained.

The experimental drug, which was partially funded by the Department of Defense's Threat Reduction Agency, was tested extensively in primates and it was approved for phase one of human trials this January by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

quicklist: 4 category: The Experimental Treatments Designed to Fight Ebola title: Sarepta's Ebola Anti-Viral Medication url: text: One other option for Dallas doctors will be to look at using a drug designed by the Massachusetts-based Sarepta Therapeutics.

Chris Garabedian, president and CEO of Sarepta, said the drug works by targeting the protein responsible for replicating the Ebola virus in the host. In primate studies, the survival rate for subjects treated with the medication was between 60 to 80 percent, according to Garabedian. The drug was developed originally due to a contract with the Department of Defense.

However, there are just 25 doses currently ready for immediate use, according to a spokesperson for Sarepta. There is material for another 100 doses, but that material is not yet ready and would take months before it would be ready for use in patients. media: 25889479

quicklist: 5 category: The Experimental Treatments Designed to Fight Ebola title: Biocryst Pharmaceuticals' BCX4430 url: text: One other drug is being developed by a North Carolina-based pharmaceutical company collaborating with the National Institutes of Health.

The antiviral drug, BCX4430, could be used to treat different kinds of hemorrhagic fever including Ebola, according to Biocryst Pharmaceuticals.

The Ebola drug attempts to stop the virus by targeting a key enzyme in the virus, according to the company's website.

The drug will start the first phase of human trials later this year, according to the CDC.

Comments