Ray of hope for Ebola patients
Live Punjab News Service
The first potential vaccine designed to prevent infection with the lethal Ebola virus has passed initial safety tests in humans. Scientists report that it has shown promising signs of protecting people from contracting the disease.
Lead researcher Dr. Gary Nabel of the National Institutes of Health however maintains that much more research is necessary to prove the success of the vaccine since the early stage testing involved experimentation on just 21 people.
The incurable Ebola hemorrhagic fever results in death within a few days owing to massive internal bleeding. Contact with the deadly Ebola virus discovered in Africa in 1976 proves fatal in nearly 90 percent of cases.
So far natural outbreaks have been limited to Africa alone, apparently when people come into contact with infected apes or bushmeat, the meat of ape, which is eaten in many areas of Africa.
The likely vaccine would not only help suppress such outbreaks but also provide better protection for doctors, nurses and animal-care workers.
This vaccine developed at the NIH's Vaccine Research Center developed is made of DNA strands that encode three Ebola proteins. The vaccine was boosted with a weakened cold-related virus, and the combination protected monkeys exposed to Ebola.
The first human testing looked just at the vaccine's DNA portion; the full combination will be tested later.
Comparing 6 people who had been administered dummy shots with 21 volunteers who received increasing doses of the DNA vaccine, Nabel and colleagues claimed that no disturbing side effect were observed.
Moreover, the vaccine recipients produced Ebola-specific antibodies, giving "us some confidence that the vaccine is having an effect on the immune system," Nabel said.
Once the complete vaccine has passed additional safety testing NIH plans to analyse its efficacy in protecting people by investigating whether people have the same immune-system reactions to the vaccine as do monkeys that are protected by it.