A single dose of an experimental Ebola vaccine has been found to protect monkeys against the strain of the deadly virus that killed thousands of people in West Africa last year.
“These findings may pave the way for the identification and manufacture of safer, single dose, high efficiency vaccines to combat current and future Ebola outbreaks,” said Thomas Geisbert, professor at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
During 2014, the outbreak of the West African Makona strain of Ebola Zaire virus killed almost 10,000 people and caused worldwide concern.
With increasing population growth in West Africa, the frequency of contact between humans and natural Ebola virus hosts such as bats will likely rise, potentially leading to more catastrophic outbreaks.
“We are excited at the possibility of helping develop a way to stop this deadly disease. We have a lot more work to accomplish but it’s important to note that this is a big step,” Geisbert said.
The research team developed a vaccine effective against Ebola Zaire with a single dose in a nonhuman primate model. This new vaccine employs a virus not harmful to humans called vesicular stomatitis virus that had a part of the Ebola virus inserted into it.
This “Trojan horse” vaccine safely triggered an immune response against Ebola Zaire, the researchers, who collaborated with the biotechnology company Profectus BioSciences for the study, noted.
To address any possible safety concerns associated with this vaccine, the team developed two next generation candidate vaccines that contain further weakened forms of the vaccine.
“Our findings show that our candidate vaccines provided complete, single dose protection from a lethal amount of the Makona strain of Ebola virus,” John Eldridge, chief scientific officer-vaccines at Profectus Biosciences said.
These findings were detailed in the journal Nature.