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US researchers closer to Ebola vaccine

world Updated: Nov 27, 2014 20:40 IST
Yashwant Raj
ebola research


Researchers in the United States reported Wednesday an experimental Ebola vaccine was found safe in first tests on humans, and it was now ready for wider clinical trials.

The 20 volunteers given the vaccine, which was shown to have protected monkeys form Ebola, showed no dangerous side-effects, said the researchers in a New England Journal report.

The vaccine has been developed jointly by the National Institutes of Health (US equivalent of AIIMS) and GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company.

“The safety profile is encouraging, as is the finding that the higher dose of vaccine induced an immune response quite comparable to that which has completely protected (lab) animals from Ebola," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

And in a rare response to medical research announcements, the White House congratulated the researchers, signaling high-level of concern about the threat from Ebola virus.

Calling it an “important milestone”, the White House said in a statement it “lays the groundwork for the critical clinical trials to follow shortly in Ebola-impacted countries to determine the safety and efficacy of Ebola vaccine candidates on a larger scale”

Over 5,600 people have died in the outbreak, which has been compared by some to HIV/AIDS; most of them in three west African countries Sierra Leone, Liberia and New Guinea.

This experimental vaccine, called cAd3-ZEBOV, will now be tried on healthcare workers in Libera.

There are other vaccines in various stages of development. The Public Health Agency of Canada has developed one, whose commercial license is held by American firm NewLink Genetics.

Johnson & Johnson announced last month it plans to begin testing an Ebola vaccine on humans in January, and may be ready to start selling it by May, if found safe.