January 29, 2023
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Editorial: Ebola eradication effort turns to region’s experts


If the current effort to bring the Ebola virus outbreak under control is successful, the Central Coast will have played a surprisingly large role.

Among the first organizations to respond to the rapid expansion of new Ebola cases was Santa Barbara-based Direct Relief International. Ordinarily DRI is involved in shipping pharmaceuticals and medical treatment supplies overseas in the case of national disasters.

But this time its two person logistics team, headed by Transportation Manager Alisa Harnish, was responsible for rounding up hazmat suits, rubber gloves and other supplies necessary to protect health care workers and those removing dead bodies from homes and hospitals in Liberia and elsewhere.

The Business Times was pleased to honor Harnish at its annual 40 Under 40 dinner on Oct. 21.

Meanwhile in Thousand Oaks, Amgen has been asked by Mapp Biopharmaceutical, which is working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help the company in developing a speedier way to synthesize its in-demand Ebola treatment called ZMapp.

The Gates Foundation is providing $150,000 to the San Diego-based startup Mapp in hopes it can replenish its stock of the drug. Amgen is sending 12 to 14 scientists to see if the drug can be made in Chinese hamster ovary cells. That technique can be ramped up quickly as it resembles the technology used for Amgen’s Enbrel and Epogen blockbuster drugs.

If anything is the hallmark of the region’s economy, it is an outward-looking approach, whether that involves environmentalism, philanthropy or technology.

In the case of Direct Relief and Amgen, their efforts to bring the Ebola outbreak under control may be more than noteworthy. They may help make history.