A single dose of a new Ebola vaccine that can be inhaled has been found to neutralize the deadly virus in monkeys.
A single dose of a new Ebola vaccine that can be inhaled has been found to neutralize the deadly virus in monkeys, researchers reported on Monday.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, demonstrated that the aerosol Ebola vaccine activated immune cells in the respiratory system of rhesus macaques and provided full protection against the virus. The study was conducted by researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. It was the first attempt to use an aerosol to vaccinate monkeys against a hemorrhagic viral fever, the study’s authors said.
“The initial several decades of attempts to develop a vaccine against the Ebola virus were unsuccessful,” said Alexander Bukreyev, a virologist from the University of Texas Medical Branch and one of the paper’s authors. “This is one of the few vaccines that works.”
But the success of the vaccine in monkeys is no guarantee that it will work in people. This year, an Ebola drug that had been effective in monkeys failed to help humans.
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“This is a positive step forward,” said Dr. Daniel Bausch, a virologist from Tulane University. “It’s not a breakthrough or ‘Eureka!’ ”
The new vaccine can be administered without help from a medical professional. So if it proves successful in humans, the vaccine will be particularly useful in developing countries where there is a severe scarcity of doctors and nurses, as there is in West Africa, where the worst Ebola epidemic in history has yet to be extinguished.
“The discussion in the field right now is if this Ebola outbreak will be some kind of game changer for vaccine development, or will it only be one more scare that will be forgotten,” said Dr. Igor Lukashevich, a medical virologist from the University of Louisville, who was not involved with the study. “This aerosolized form of the vaccine is really what the field needs right now.”
The study’s lead author, Michelle Meyer, at the University of Texas Medical Branch, said the respiratory tract may serve as a portal for the Ebola virus if it is exposed to droplets of infected bodily fluids.