Science

Experimental drug helps Walkerton baby with E. coli

A baby infected with E. coli seems to be recovering well after being given an experimental drug rushed to Walkerton to combat the bacterial outbreak.

Lucas Johnson was the first child to take Synsorb Pk, a drug that is still in clinical trials. Johnson's last blood test showed he had no kidney damage since he got sick from E. coli less than two weeks ago.

He has to stay on the medication until Friday but his mother is optimistic he's almost fully recovered.

Synsorb Pk is being developed by an Edmonton scientist. Health Canada hasn't approved the drug yet, but it rushed 10 doses to the Walkerton hospital when the E. coli outbreak began.

It was a rare move to allow an unlicensed drug for treatment but Health Canada said it was released for "humanitarian reasons."

The drug was intended for treating children in Walkerton who were diagnosed early. Children tend to be hit harder by E. coli.

Lucas was given the drug three days after he first began to show symptoms of the E. coli infection. Health officials say Synsorb Pk was given to a total of eight patients.

The drug draws E. coli's deadly toxins away from the kidneys and into the bowel for elimination.

So far, six adults and one baby have died in the E. coli outbreak.

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