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Owensboro company prepares for Ebola treatment production

As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa spreads, an Owensboro company is ramping up to meet the demand for treatment of the virus. 

Kentucky BioProcessing provides a key ingredient for the one treatment that so far has proven effective against the deadly virus. KBP is the contract producer of a protein from tobacco plants that is used in the Z-Mapp compound, which is manufactured by Mapp BioPharmaceuticals.

Z-Mapp is not yet approved to treat Ebola, but it has been reported that some of the American aid workers infected with ebola were treated successfully with the experimental compound.

Reynolds American bought KBP in January of 2014.  Reynolds American spokesperson David Howard says KBP is ramping up production of the tobacco plant protein.

"Kentucky BioProcessing certainly has the capability to meet expected demands, but right now there are still so many questions about all of it, still so much information being gathered. In the meantime, the focus is, let's ramp up production, let's make more of the compound to continue moving forward on the approval protocols and to get that process moving as quickly as possible."

Howard says another important issue affecting production is that no one knows how much Z-Mapp is needed for effective treatment of an infected patient.  He wouldn’t speculate on the extent of expansion at the KBP facility in Owensboro, including whether any new workers would be hired.  

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