11/18/2014 10:03 EST | Updated 01/18/2015 05:59 EST

Gates Foundation, other donors launch study of Ebola drugs, survivors' blood, in Africa

A group of donors led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide experimental drugs and fund a study to collect blood plasma from Ebola survivors to treat new victims of the disease in West Africa.

Plasma contains antibodies, substances the immune system makes to fight the virus. Several Ebola patients have received plasma from survivors and recovered, but doctors say there is no way to know whether it works without a rigorous study.

The Gates Foundation is giving $5.7 million for the project in West Africa. More than a dozen companies, universities and others are contributing supplies, staff and cash, and are working with the countries and the World Health Organization on specific procedures and locations.

The plans were announced Tuesday.