So far, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has caused nearly 16,000 cases of infection, and 5,674 deaths over the territory of the three countries most affected by it – Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Given the dire state of the situation, researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease have developed a new vaccine that has been labeled as a potential breakthrough after the first tests. The candidate is currently known as cAd3-EBO and it is one of the two developed vaccines currently subjected to testing.
cAd3-EBO uses a replication-defective recombinant to deliver the glycoprotein from 2 species of Ebola virus and has been tested on 20 volunteers. All hosts of the vaccine have responded to the treatment positively, receiving antibody response in a short period of time. The second phase of the test consisted of observing the way different doses of the vaccine reacted in the body. Higher doses not only induced greater response, but also stimulated T-cell activity from the immune system on the patients, enhancing the body’s ability to protect itself from contagion. Out of the 20 cases put under observation, there have been no records of side effects for the lower-dose volunteers, while two of the targets that received higher doses presented temporary fever.
At this point, this is the only possible way to combat the disease, with no known cures available for already infected individuals. Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) are working in collaboration with the drug-making company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to further develop the vaccine, with a focus on a monovalent version that will target the Zaire protein only, in hopes of speeding up the process of putting an end to the current outbreak which involves the Zaire strain of the virus.
Naturally the trials currently being run on the Ebola vaccine are of a far too small scale to be able to give forth a definite answer. The testing phase will have to extend on a much wider range of subjects before it can be declared viable and safe. Meanwhile, the 60-60-70 goal that was set by the World Health Organization in October is still in effect, but medical workers present at the scene are showing some difficulty at keeping up with the set targets. Ebola response teams in the affected countries are eagerly awaiting a positive result from the researchers.