Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Donates Blood in Search for Cure

One of two Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola last year is donating blood to a biotech firm to determine if her antibodies can be used to develop a drug to combat the deadly disease.

Amber Vinson gave the blood Wednesday to drug development company XBiotech, the company confirmed to NBC 5 Wednesday.

Ebola survivors are resistant to the disease, and their blood plasma is chock full of antibodies to the virus, leading many doctors to believe that infusions of a convalescent serum could kick-start the immune systems of infected people battling the virus.

A convalescent serum is blood from a survivor with the red blood cells removed. The antibodies in the blood, of which there are many having recently fought off an attack, recognize and know how to fight the infection for sometime after the infection is resolved. Certain immune system cells are replenished so the person is able to fight off infection should the same germ turn up again.

Vinson's donation isn't the first for an Ebola survivor; Dr. Kent Brantly and others who have contracted Ebola have given blood plasma to help treat victims. Brantly was the recipient of such a transfusion from an Ebola survivor he treated in West Africa.

Not everyone is so sure the blood infusions are the key to recovery however. Thomas Geisbert, an expert at the University of Texas Medical Branch who's helped test many Ebola treatments, told NBC News in October "We really don't know whether the convalescent serum is working in helping to protect these patients or not at this time."

Vinson became infected while treating a Liberian who fell ill during a visit to Dallas last fall. Both she and the second nurse, Nina Pham, have recovered.

Brantly contracted the disease treating patients in Liberia.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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