Ebola vaccine trials to be conducted on volunteers in OxfordCurrent affairsNewsPolitics & Social issuesScience & Technology
A new Ebola virus vaccine is being trialled for the first time on volunteers in Oxford. The trial will involve 60 healthy volunteers, the first of whom will be injected today with the experimental vaccine.
Developed by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, in conjunction with the US National Institutes of Health, the vaccine has been created using a chimpanzee common cold virus adapted with a single Ebola protein. Volunteers are not at any risk of contracting the Ebola virus, but the dose is sufficiently strong to induce the desired antibodies effective in combating the infection.
A £2.8 million grant was provided by the Wellcome Trust, The Medical Research Council, and the UK Department for International Development to fund the trial and is conducted by scientists at the Jenner Institute, at the University of Oxford.
Professor Adrian Hill, who is leading the team, has lauded the efforts of those involved to dispatch the vaccine as quickly as possible to the affected areas. He said: “This is a remarkable example of how quickly a new vaccine can be progressed into the clinic, using international co-operation. We, and all of our partners on the project are optimistic that this candidate vaccine may prove useful.”
Testing for new vaccines such as this usually takes at least 18 months before success can be adjudged. However, due to the severity of this particular outbreak, which official statistics reveal has already claimed over 2,400 lives in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, the vaccine is being fast-tracked through the system in a bid to dispatch it as soon as early 2015.
In anticipation of the trial’s success, manufacturers of the vaccine have already increased the rate of production to meet the predicted demand.
Speaking to Sky News, unsure professor Peter Piot, who co-discovered the Ebola virus in 1976, and now director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, commented: “Whether this new vaccine will be useful to stop the epidemic I don’t know. Let’s hope the epidemic will be nearly finished by the end of the year or in six month’s time. If it lasts much longer the vaccine will be there. But let’s not forget there will be other epidemics.”