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Ebola Drug Has Kentucky Connection

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Ebola, but several are under development.

And one manufactured in Kentucky appears to be among those being used in the U.S. to treat aid workers stricken with the disease. The treatment is called ZMapp and it's aimed at boosting the immune system's efforts to fight off Ebola.

The drug is made in tobacco plants at Kentucky BioProcessing, a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., in Owensboro.

"Essentially you have these proteins that can battle the Ebola virus and a firm like Kentucky BioProcessing takes these proteins and they will infect a tobacco plant with the proteins and the tobacco plant will serve a kind of photocopier and then produce quantities of these proteins very quickly. And then KBP is able to extract these targeted proteins, purify them, and develop the compound ZMapp," say KBP spokesman David Howard.

While Howard can’t confirm that the patients have been administered the experimental drug, he says KBP has complied with a request from Emory and the international relief group Samaritan’s Purse to provide a limited amount of the drug.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.