ASU researchers encouraged by recovery of Ebola virus patients - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

ASU researchers encouraged by recovery of Ebola virus patients

An ambulance transporting an American missionary stricken with Ebola, arrives at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 5, 2014. (Source: David Goldman/AP) An ambulance transporting an American missionary stricken with Ebola, arrives at Emory University Hospital, in Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 5, 2014. (Source: David Goldman/AP)
TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

Doctors said Thursday that they have no idea what impact the experimental drug ZMapp had on the two American Ebola patients, being treated in Atlanta.

But over at ASU's Biodesign Institute, there's a sense of pride that their hard work is paying off.

Dr. Qiang Chen is part of the research team that helped develop the experimental treatment that was used on the two Americans infected with the deadly Ebola virus.

The two Americans were released from an Atlanta hospital Thursday - virus free.

"I am very proud for ourselves and our colleagues," said Chen. "It's a great contribution, not only understanding more about nature, but actually help in saving lives."

Researchers told CBS 5 News that the drug mixture used to treat the Ebola virus, was actually created using tobacco plants and anti-bodies produced by lab animals exposed to parts of the virus.

The drug is designed to boost a patient's immune system and help fight off the deadly Ebola cells.

It had never before been used on humans.

However, doctors in Atlanta said its too soon to say whether the experimental drug was the key to the Ebola patients recovery.

"Frankly, we do not know whether it helped them, whether it made no difference, or whether it might have delayed their recovery."

Despite the skepticism, ASU researchers appear more determined than ever to keep pushing their research, in hopes of finding a vaccine or cure for Ebola.

"Seeing some success like this just drives us to want to move quickly and do a lot more work," said ASU professor Charles Arntzen, who heads up the research project. "While we cant say absolutely there's a straight line between the drug and the recovery - it sure looks exciting."

ZMapp was also given to three healthcare workers in Liberia, who reportedly have shown marked improvement.

Health experts said more cases need to be analyzed to determine whether this drug is effective and capable of helping thousands of other patients.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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