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DALLAS A Fort Worth doctor continues to fight the Ebola virus, but is now waging that battle on American soil.

Dr. Kent Brantly was airlifted safely to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Saturday.

In Liberia, Brantly had apparently declined to take what was reported to be the only dose of an experimental medication to fight Ebola. He had requested that the dose be give to fellow missionary Nancy Writebol, also diagnosed with Ebola.

Now, sources say three experimental vials stored at subzero temperatures were flown into Liberia last week in a last-ditch effort to save the missionary workers. But as the first vial was still thawing, Kent Brantly's condition worsened. He became the first human ever to try it.

The drug, called ZMapp, is made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which is also developing treatments for other dangerous pathogens, including ricin. The serum had previously only been tried on monkeys.

The FDA had to give special approval to administer the experimental drug under the 'compassionate use' regulation, which permits access to investigational drugs outside clinical trials.

Within an hour of receiving the medication, Brantly's condition was said to have improved dramatically.

'I hope that, in fact, that happened,' said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. 'But we have taken care of individuals who come in, in shock, and you give them antibiotic if they have an infection, but also give them a lot of fluid and they get better real quickly. And what was it: The antibiotic or the fluid?'

'We need to be careful,' he added. 'I do hope it was as impressive as being described, because if it is, that bodes well for that particular product.'

According to a company news release on the Mapp Biopharmaceutical website, all the monkeys survived when ZMapp was administered one hour after infection. Two-thirds of the animals were protected, even with then the treatment was administered 48 hours after infection.

Brantly was nine days into the infection when he received the first dose of the serum.

The stricken physician was able to climb out of the ambulance and walk into Emory University Hospital, dressed in protective gear. He is currently in isolation. He has received two doses of the serum so far.

According to reports, Nancy Writebol has also received two doses of the experimental serum. A medical evacuation jet landed in Liberia on Monday; she is expected to arrive in Atlanta on Tuesday.

ZMapp is one of several therapies for Ebola currently in development. A drug being tested by Canadian company Tekmira is thought to be furthest along in the regulatory process. That medication has been tested on people, though the clinical trial was put on hold by the FDA, which asked for additional data about a reported inflammatory reaction when the drug was administered in higher doses.

A company spokesperson says Tekmira's product has not been used on the American missionaries.

Dr. Kent Brantly is showing signs of improvement.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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