Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise as Human Trials Begin

With the World Health Organization reporting that more than 2,000 people have died during the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, researchers are urgently testing several experimental treatments in hopes of developing effective remedies against the deadly virus. One such potential treatment is currently being tested on monkeys by researchers from the US National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline.

With the World Health Organization reporting that more than 2,000 people have died during the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, researchers are urgently testing several experimental treatments in hopes of developing effective remedies against the deadly virus. One such potential treatment is currently being tested on monkeys by researchers from the US National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline.

Study results published in Nature Medicine show the vaccine, which combines components of the Zaire and Sudan strains of Ebola, has the potential to protect monkeys from being infected by the deadly virus. The study showed that vaccinated animals could be protected for “at least 10 months” according to a BBC news report.

The study authors reported that four crab-eating macaques survived a “fatal dose” of the Ebola virus given to them five weeks after vaccination. However, only half of the survivors were still alive at the 10-month mark.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was quoted in the BBC story as saying the results were a mix bag for researchers.

“The good part of this vaccine is that at five weeks you get full protection,” he said. “The sobering news is the durability isn’t great, but if you give a boost, a second shot, you make it really durable.”

According to the authors, they increased the chimpanzee-derived replication-defective denovirus (ChAd) component in the vaccine and used modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) to provide longer-term protection from Ebola.

The BBC noted the first human trial recently started and others will be held not only in the US but also at the University of Oxford, as well as in Mali and Gambia.