• Still in phase one testing

Researchers have confirmed that they are closer to developing an Ebola vaccine, with a Phase 1 trial showing promising results, but it will be months before it will be ready to be used in the field for treatment. The news comes amid the worst ever outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, which has killed nearly 5,700 people, mostly in West Africa.

In the first phase of testing, all 20 healthy adults injected with a higher or lower dose of the vaccine developed antibodies needed to fight Ebola, said the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is responsible for conducting the studies on the vaccine. But the NIAID/GSK vaccine is still a long way from being utilized by medical practitioners in the fight against Ebola.

There is no treatment or vaccine against the Ebola virus, which is transmitted through bodily fluids and has been fatal in an estimated 70 percent of cases in the current outbreak. The volunteers were injected starting in September, and each showed a positive result for Ebola antibodies in blood tests within four weeks. The 10 volunteers in the higher-dose group developed higher antibody levels, the NIH said.

The vaccine uses a modified chimpanzee cold virus to deliver segments of genetic material from the Ebola virus. The genetic material cannot spread in the body like the virus does, but can still prompt a reaction from the antibody. The version tested at NIH contains material from two species of Ebola, the Zaire species, responsible for the outbreak in West Africa, and another called Sudan Ebola.

The World Health Organization said that the global death toll from the Ebola virus had increased to 5,689 out of a total of 15,935 cases of infection, almost entirely in the West African region. The WHO believes that the number of deaths is likely far higher, given the difficulty in collecting comprehensive figures and Ebola’s high fatality rate.

Extracted and modified from Yahoo News


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