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An internationally renowned virologist visiting the IRCM

Nov. 6 2019 | International

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The IRCM is being asked by the Democratic Republic of Congo to join the response to the Ebola epidemic.

Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, an internationally acclaimed Congolese doctor in the field of the Ebola virus, took part in a workshop at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) from October 22 to 25. 

Professor Muyembe-Tamfum has devoted his entire life and career to the fight against Ebola. In 1976, at the age of 34, he became the first virologist to observe a patient with the virus. Over the years, Professor Muyembe-Tamfum has helped to combat the first nine epidemics in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He is currently the founder and Executive Director of the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) and professor of microbiology at the University of Kinshasa Medical School in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


A new battle against the virus

Since August 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been grappling with its tenth epidemic, which is also the worst in its history. Once again, Dr. Muyembe-Tamfum is on the front lines and on July 22, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, appointed him as head of the Multisectoral Committee for the Response to Ebola Virus Disease, a committee that reports directly to Mr. Tshisekedi. 
 
To date, this new Ebola epidemic has affected 3,272 patients, 2,183 of whom have died, representing a mortality rate of over 60%. In fact, the World Health Organization recently declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern.

In response to this new crisis, the IRCM proposed to Professor Muyembe-Tamfum to add a new therapeutic measure by making available to them an antiviral agent called quercetin, a compound that has both preventive and curative antiviral activities.

It is in this context that Majambu Mbikay and Michel Chrétien, both researchers at the IRCM, and the International Consortium on Antivirals (ICAV/ICAV), chaired by Dr. Jeremy Carver, organized an international workshop with Professor Muyembe-Tamfum as the guest of honour. 

Following the symposium, they plan to set up clinical trials, in collaboration with the INRB, to study the effect of quercetin to reduce contamination of caregivers and relatives, treat patients and prevent the long-term consequences of the disease. Furthermore, the Swiss company Quercegen Pharmaceutical has committed to supplying quercetin for clinical trials.