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ASU treatment playing big part in Ebola fight

LISTEN: ASU Professor Charles Arntzen- Helping Develop Ebola Treatment

PHOENIX — Researchers at Arizona State University are behind the experimental treatment being used on two Americans who have been diagnosed with Ebola.

The unapproved treatment was administered to Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol when they returned to the U.S. They both contracted Ebola while battling an outbreak in West Africa. The condition of both people began to improve rapidly after receiving the treatment.

“I am very impressed that whoever made these decisions in government was willing to take a risk and a risk that turned out, it looks like, to save lives,” said Arntzen.

The possible treatment has been in development at ASU since 2002. It is derived from the tobacco plant.

“What you end up with is the antibodies that you want and they were highly effective against Ebola,” said professor Charles Arntzen.

While he said he would still push for a fast approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Arntzen said he’s just happy the treatment is working.

“Those unfortunate people who were getting sick got better and, all in all, it’s just a wonderful outcome.”

Pending approval, Arntzen hopes to get it to doctors in countries where Ebola is a real threat.

More than 930 people have died in the recent Ebola outbreak West Africa, spawning the World Health Organization to consider declaring a global health emergency.

KTAR’s Cooper Rummell and the Associated Press contributed to this report.