Is a quick and safe Ebola vaccine round the corner? Some good news is coming at last from the US, where a team of medical scientists at the University of Texas is testing a new vaccine. They have reportedly employed a virus which is harmless to humans called ‘vesicular stomatitis’ virus in which a part of the dreaded Ebola virus had been inserted. Working like a ‘Trojan horse’, this vaccine has safely triggered an immune response against the Ebola Zaire virus. To address possible safety concerns, the team has also developed two next generation candidate vaccines considerably weaker than the first generation vaccine. Both these vaccines were observed to produce approximately ten-fold lower levels of virus in the blood, compared to the first generation vaccine. Scientists have now expressed confidence that it is only a matter of time before a safe, single dose, high efficiency vaccine is manufactured that can combat current and future Ebola outbreaks. They are also trying to ensure that small differences between various Ebola virus strains do not impact on the effectiveness of the vaccine. The trials were conducted on macaque monkeys, and will soon move on to humans. This is an encouraging development, considering that more than 10,000 lives have been lost in the current Ebola haemorrhagic fever outbreak in several countries in western Africa. If the vaccine clears fil testing hurdles, the next challenge will be to make it available at affordable prices to poor tions.
Vaccine against Ebola