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The experimental treatment given to two American patients infected with the Ebola virus has its roots in a therapy devised more than 100 years ago — serum. Back in the late 1800s doctors discovered they could sometimes save patients suffering from deadly diseases, like diphtheria and tetanus, by injecting them with serum derived from the blood of people who had somehow been able to fight off infections with those bugs on their own. The process has modernized to be sure.

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