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UK and Wellcome offer $10 million for emergency Ebola research

LONDON (Reuters) - An emergency research call has been launched to help fight the world's worst Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with the British government and the Wellcome Trust medical charity pledging a combined 6.5 million pounds ($10.8 million).

Expert teams from around the world are being invited to submit research proposals by Sept. 8 for initiatives that can rapidly investigate new approaches to treating, preventing and containing the disease.

"The gravity of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa demands an urgent response, and we believe rapid research into humanitarian interventions and therapeutics can have an impact on treatment and containment during the present outbreak," Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome's director, said in a statement.

Wellcome, the world's second highest-spending charitable foundation, also announced a long-term investment in African science worth 40 million pounds on Thursday.

There are no proven treatments or vaccines for Ebola but the World Health Organisation has backed the use of untested products and is hoping for improved supplies of experimental drugs by the end of the year.

British scientists said earlier that up to 30,000 people would have so far needed such treatments or vaccines in the current outbreak, which has killed more than 1,300 people.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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