Ebola: New Vaccine Trial Begins

Scientists at Oxford University have begun immunising healthy volunteers with a new Ebola Virus Disease, EVD vaccine, according to a report published Tuesday by bbc.com.. In September last year a separate trial of another Ebola vaccine got underway in the city.

This latest trial involves 72 adult volunteers aged 18-50. Initial tests in monkeys showed the vaccine, developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson, gave complete protection against Ebola.

Volunteers will receive two doses of the test vaccine
Volunteers will receive two doses of the test vaccine

The volunteers in Oxford are the first humans to receive the vaccine. Dr Matthew Snape, from the Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics, said: “We aim to immunise all participants within a month. The main aim is to understand the safety profile of the vaccines.”

The trial involves volunteers receiving an additional booster dose one or two months after the initial injection. Similar small trials will also get underway in the United States of America, USA and three African countries unaffected by Ebola. The first dose is designed to prime the immune system with the second booster dose to enhance the immune response. The two doses contain different components, but both include genes for a protein from the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus.

The trial organisers stress the vaccine cannot cause anyone to be infected with Ebola. The immune response the vaccine generates both antibodies and T cells will be measured over the course of a year.

Johnson and Johnson said it hoped to begin a larger Phase 2 trial in Africa and Europe within three months and then to have the vaccine available for use in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone by the middle of 2015. The company says it could have two million doses of the vaccine available this year.

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