New Experimental Vaccine May Prevent the Ebola Virus

First Posted: Nov 27, 2014 09:23 AM EST

Scientists may have come up with a promising experimental vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus. The new vaccine was well-tolerated and produced immune system responses in all 20 of the healthy adults who received it in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

"The unprecedented scale of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has intensified efforts to develop safe and effective vaccines, which may play a role in bringing this epidemic to an end and undoubtedly will be critically important in preventing future large outbreaks," said Anthony S. Fauci, NIAID director, in a news release. "Based on these positive results from the first human trial of this candidate vaccine, we are continuing our accelerated plan for larger trials to determine if the vaccine is efficacious in preventing Ebola infection."

The vaccine itself contains segments of Ebola virus genetic material from two virus species, Sudan and Zaire. The Ebola genetic material is delivered by a carrier virus that causes a common cold in chimpanzees, but causes no illness in humans.

In order to test the effectiveness of the vaccine, the researchers injected a low dose of the vaccine in 10 volunteers and a higher dose in 10 more. At two weeks and four weeks following vaccination, the scientists tested the volunteers' blood to determine if anti-Ebola antibodies were generated. It turns out that all 20 of the volunteers developed these antibodies within four weeks of receiving the vaccine, though antibody levels were higher in those who received a higher dose of the vaccine.

That's not all either. There were no serious adverse effects to the vaccine. However, two people who received a higher dose did develop a brief fever within a day of vaccination. That said, the new vaccine may pave the way for a more widely-used vaccine, which could help curb the spread of Ebola.

The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature Medicine.

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