Deadly Tobacco Becomes A Lifesaver - 09/02/14
The irony ~ Tobacco, the very plant blamed for prematurely killing 443 thousand Americans each year. Tobacco, the same plant that led to a $246 billion dollar lawsuit settlement in the 90's against the tobacco industry. Tobacco, the cash crop for Kentucky and North Carolina for decades. This little green plant that's gotten the bad rap for snuffing out lives too early... has now saved at least two.... and scientists can't grow enough of this hybrid tobacco fast enough.
The Ebola outbreak the CDC now says, "is out of control" is all of the sudden heavily dependent on tobacco and it's all being grown just up the road from us in a lab in Owensboro, Kentucky. Somehow, this special tobacco is able to host a cocktail of antibodies that kick starts the immune system in Ebola victims and promotes healing.
It worked for the two American aid workers who were brought back here to the states for the experimental treatment. Now, the challenge is to grow more of it faster and substantiate the trials needed to use it on sick people who will otherwise die, according to doctors.
Scientists have been working on this tobacco cocktail known as ZMapp for years with plans for trials at some point in the future. They just didn't anticipate what's now a pandemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The CDC says for every day Ebola spreads in West Africa, it threatens people of all nations who may travel. It's hard to contain and highly contagious.
That's why the CDC is dispatching a team to Senegal to help prevent the spread of the disease. More than 1500 people have already died and another American doctor came down sick with Ebola today. He had been working with pregnant women in West Africa.
Just a little news update interwoven with a redemption story for tobacco and I think it's all pretty darn cool that it's happening just up the road from us. A hop, skip and a jump away.