The Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL), a U.S.-Liberia joint Clinical Research Partnership, on July 5 announced the opening of PREVAIL IV, a treatment trial for men who have survived Ebola virus disease (EVD) but continue to have evidence of Ebola virus genetic material, RNA, in their semen. The 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 either investigational drug GS-5734, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc., or a placebo.
The co-principal investigators of the PREVAIL IV trial are Dehkontee Gayedyu-Dennis, MD, site physician at Duport Road PREVAIL site, Monrovia; Elizabeth Higgs, MD, NIAID; and William A. Fischer II, MD, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
In May 2014, Dr. Fischer worked in Gueckedou, Guinea -- the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak -- as part of a team from Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF) to try to help reduce mortality from Ebola virus disease in rural communities. Dr. Fischer was recruited by the World Health Organization (WHO) because of his critical care medicine expertise. He spent 12 days working to save lives at an Ebola clinic in Gueckedou and wrote movingly about the experience in a series of emails to friends, family and colleagues, which you can read here.
Then in December 2014, Dr. Fischer returned to West Africa. He and another UNC School of Medicine physician, David Wohl, MD, traveled to Monrovia, Liberia to assist in an Ebola treatment clinical trial. In the trial, which is run by ClinicalRM and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plasma is taken from survivors of Ebola virus disease and given to patients who are actively sick in an effort to help them combat this disease.