Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


The Ebola vaccine works!

09 September 2014, 09:03

Abuja - New monkey studies show that one shot of an experimental Ebola vaccine can trigger fast protection, but the effect waned unless the animals got a booster shot made a different way.

Some healthy people are rolling up their sleeves at the National Institutes of Health for the first human safety study of this vaccine in hopes it eventually might be used in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The NIH on Sunday published some of the key animal research behind those injections. One reason the vaccine was deemed promising was that a single dose protected all four vaccinated monkeys when they were exposed to high levels of Ebola virus just five weeks later, researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Protection wanes over time

That's in line with other vaccines routinely used today, and fortunately it didn't take multiple doses to trigger that much protection, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose employees led the work.

The bigger challenge is that the protection wanes over time.

Researchers exposed monkeys to Ebola 10 months after vaccination, and this time only half were protected.

Partial protection is better than none, Fauci said. But the goal is long-lasting protection, so it was time to try booster shots. The vaccine is made with a chimpanzee cold virus, used as a delivery system for pieces of an Ebola gene. The researchers tried simply giving another dose as a booster two months later. That didn't work well enough.

So they tried a different approach called "prime-boost". The first dose, to prime the immune system, was that original chimp virus-based Ebola vaccine. But for the booster two months later, they made vaccine a different way. They encased the same Ebola gene pieces inside a poxvirus that's used to make a vaccine against smallpox. (Neither vaccine type can cause Ebola.

This time, all four monkeys still were protected 10 months after the initial shot.

Testing the shots' effectiveness

With the Ebola crisis rapidly worsening, the World Health Organisation said Friday that it would try to speed the use of certain experimental products, including two vaccine candidates. The WHO said that in November, it expects early results from first-stage studies to see if the vaccine appears safe and triggers an immune reaction in people. That would help determine whether to test the shots' effectiveness in health care workers in West Africa.

Small animal and human safety studies cannot guarantee that experimental vaccines really work in an outbreak, Fauci said. That's why he emphasises public health measures such as isolating the sick, quarantine and, especially for health workers, using personal protection equipment.

"Make sure people do what works," he said.

Testing the booster-shot

The booster-shot findings illustrate an added complexity to speeding an experimental vaccine into the field. The initial first phase study results would shed light only on that "priming" vaccine made from the chimp cold virus, Fauci said. The poxvirus booster step would be tested later only if scientists decided the initial vaccine was promising enough.

Still, manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline has said it plans to begin manufacturing up to 10,000 doses of the initial NIH-developed vaccine.

Canadian researchers created a similar Ebola vaccine that works in monkeys. Manufacturer NewLink Genetics of Ames, Iowa, said first-stage safety testing in healthy volunteers is set to begin in a few weeks.

- Health24

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page.


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...