NIH reports first experimental Ebola vaccine produces immune response

December 2, 2014

The first experimental Ebola vaccine has been shown to be safe and prompt an immune response in results from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) phase 1 clinical trial. The vaccine produced immune system responses and was well tolerated in the whole study cohort of 20 healthy adults.

The first experimental Ebola vaccine has been shown to be safe and prompt an immune response in results from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) phase 1 clinical trial. The vaccine produced immune system responses and was well tolerated in the whole study cohort of 20 healthy adults.

NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) co-developed the candidate vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline (specifically the GSK biotech company, Okairos). Although 2 volunteers who received larger doses developed a fever within a day of vaccination, there were otherwise no serious side effects.

The 20 volunteers enrolled in the trial ranged in age between 18 and 50 years. Half of the cohort were given the vaccine intramuscularly at a lower dose, while the other half received a higher dose. Within 4 weeks of receiving the vaccine, all of them developed anti-Ebola antibodies.

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These positive interim results mean that other trials of the candidate vaccine will be initiated in West Africa as soon as in the final weeks of 2014 or in early 2015. As NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, remarked, “We are continuing our accelerated plan for larger trials to determine if the vaccine is efficacious in preventing Ebola infection.”

The candidate vaccine contains segments of Ebola virus genetic material from 2 virus species, Sudan and Zaire, which is delivered by a carrier virus that in chimpanzees causes the common cold but does not cause illness in humans. The vaccine does not actually contain Ebola virus and cannot cause the disease.

These study results have been made available online in advance of print in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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