Ebola virus vaccine to be tested in UK (Wired UK)


Scientist takes blood out test tube in laboratory test of Ebola Zaire virus.

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Human trials of an Ebola vaccine are set to begin in Britain
within a few weeks, with the number of potential cases projected to
reach 20,000 during this outbreak.

The drug, currently awaiting ethical approval, is to be
developed by GlaxoSmithKline and tested here and in the US on
volunteers before being offered to high risk communities in West
Africa. Alongside the newly projected impact of the contagious
disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed the current death
toll stands at 1,552 with more than 3,000 confirmed cases
across Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra
Leone.

The vaccine tests are to be carried out here on 60
volunteers in an unaffected population — to rule out interactions
with the virus — before being administered to 80 more volunteers
in The Gambia and Mali. During the testing phase, GSK will also
begin manufacturing 10,000 vials of the vaccine ready to distribute
in affected areas from mid-September should the tests prove
successful.

This experimental vaccine — developed by immunologists at the
University of Oxford — is based on a strain of Chimpanzee cold
virus, containing no active Ebola virus material, so the risk of an
accidentally apocalyptic outbreak is relatively low. The drug is
manufactured by splicing two Ebola Zaire genes responsible for
producing surface proteins into the cold virus to prompt an immune
response against the currently circulating Ebola outbreak. The
surface proteins on their own are inert, simply a fingerprint to
recognise the virus, meaning the body will retain defensive
knowledge against the real deal if it ever tries to invade.

As such, vaccines are a form of pre-emptive innoculation for the
uninfected, however with careful implementation, they can help slow
down, curb or even halt the spread of an ongoing epidemic. That
said, this is not a cure, and there is no known one for Ebola
Zaire. This advancement won’t impact patients such as 29-year-old
Will Pooley, the British volunteer nurse recovering in the Royal
Free Hospital in North London after contracting Ebola while working
in Sierra Leone.

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28 August 2014 | 3:32 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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