Tags: Ebola Outbreak | ebola | vaccines | National Institutes of Health

New Tests Likely for Ebola Vaccine First Tried in '99

By    |   Monday, 20 October 2014 08:03 AM

A vaccine that appears to stop Ebola in monkeys was successfully tested in 1999 but there was little incentive to accelerate development because there was no market, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Now, after years on the back burner, human testing based on the work of cell biologist Nancy Sullivan of the National Institutes of Health's Vaccine Research Center is speeding up.

Rigorous human testing to see if the vaccine will work and if it is safe has received Food and Drug Administration approval and will begin early next year, according to the Journal.

Sullivan's is not the only vaccine in the works,  but pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline PLC says it could produce enough to have a million doses available in 2015.

If successful, her vaccine may well turn out to be a "firewall around a raging epidemic," according to the Journal.

Sullivan was encouraged by her boss, Gary Nabel, to focus her work on the Ebola vaccine. In the summer of 1999, a vaccine she was testing at Biosafety Level 4 conditions appeared to have worked on macaque monkeys exposed to the disease.

At the time there was no commercial market for the vaccine and Ebola posed little risk, the Journal reported.

To properly field test the vaccine in Africa will be a challenge, because the preparation needs to be kept frozen and electricity can be unreliable in the Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. Transportation infrastructure is also neglected.

Frontline health workers also might not agree to cooperate if they can't be assured of getting the medicine and not a placebo, the Journal reported.

Without standard randomized clinical trials, there is no way to be certain the vaccine really works, said NIH director Anthony Fauci, the Journal reported.

Given the spread of Ebola and the need to act swiftly, should normal clinical trials prove unrealistic, alternatives will be sought, said Glaxo's Ripley Ballou, the Journal reported.

Ebola caught the attention of epidemiologists in the 1970s when it was recorded in Sudan and Zaire. It returned in 1995 in Zaire — renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo— and killed several hundred people before disappearing again.

The disease is believed to be carried by bats, according to the Journal.

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A vaccine that appears to stop Ebola in monkeys was successfully tested in 1999 but there was little incentive to accelerate development because there was no market, The Wall Street Journal reported.
ebola, vaccines, National Institutes of Health
370
2014-03-20
Monday, 20 October 2014 08:03 AM
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