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Ebola in Atlanta: Inside Emory's labs | News

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Ebola in Atlanta: Inside Emory's labs
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ATLANTA -- Emory University is opening its lab doors and talking about how it's treating Ebola.

Last fall, the Ebola virus plaguing West Africa made its way onto U.S. soil, prompting an urgent quest for treatment.

It was at Emory University Hospital where Dr. Aneesh Mehta admitted Dr. Kent Brantly.

In the isolation unit, the team of doctors worked in 12-hour shifts offering what's called advanced supportive care. It includes monitoring electrolytes and fluid levels, as well as managing the hemorrhagic part of the disease – making sure the patient's blood has enough red cells, white cells and platelets.

A beacon of light came when Brantly had a simple request.

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"He asked to go take a shower; we knew that the patients were getting better," Mehta said.

The same medical plan continued with the other three patients who followed.

"The more experience that we had through our first second and third patient and then our fourth patient, we really felt more comfortable and we knew what to expect and also we felt more comfortable communicating with our colleagues around the country and around the world," Mehta said.

While those four are cured, this is only the beginning. The hospital continues groundbreaking research. Pathologist Dr. Ann Winkler is on the cutting edge. She specializes in blood banking and transfusion. She has taken blood plasma from survivors like nurse Nancy Writebol to use for future patients.

"Once we collect the plasma through a process called apheresis – it's actually a procedure -- we bring it to this laboratory," Winkler said.

It takes two people one hour to process the plasma. With refrigeration, it can last up to two years.

Two new vaccines are also on the horizon. They're currently in clinical trials.

Dr. Deborah Bruner had a role in establishing a series of forums at Emory to give real time information covering all aspects of the disease.

"We're able to speak to people who have been there and know what it's like to face the death and isolation and the stigma people face when they go back -- even if they are cured from Ebola," Bruner said.

That information is then given to the public.

"You get to see the importance of governance, trust, human rights, civil liberties in any humanitarian crisis," Bruner said.

Dr. Mehta received a $10 million grant for his research -- a benefit of being in an academic setting

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