Ebola vac­cine tests show it could ‘neu­tral­ize’ the virus: Geneva hos­pi­tal

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

An ex­per­i­men­tal Ebola vac­cine tested on hu­mans in Europe and Africa sparks the pro­duc­tion of the an­ti­bod­ies needed to neu­tral­ize the deadly virus, a Geneva hos­pi­tal said Wed­nes­day.

There is no li­censed treat­ment or vac­cine for Ebola, and the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion last year en­dorsed rush­ing po­ten­tial ones through tri­als in a bid to stem the epi­demic still sim­mer­ing in West Africa.

Ini­tial clin­i­cal tri­als of the VSVZEBOV can­di­date vac­cine, man­u­fac­tured by the Public Health Agency of Canada and de­vel­oped by Merck, show that it “trig­gers the pro­duc­tion of an­ti­bod­ies ca­pa­ble of neu­tral­iz­ing the Ebola virus,” the Geneva Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tals (HUG) said in a state­ment.

A study of the phase 1 clin­i­cal tri­als on 158 vol­un­teers in Switzer­land, Ger­many, Gabon and Kenya, pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine, also showed that the even small amounts of the vac­cine could be ef­fec­tive. The phase 1 tri­als are aimed at testing for safety.

The study com­pared the doses tested by the var­i­ous teams, rang­ing from 300,000 to 50 mil­lion vac­cine par­ti­cles, and found that “even low doses of this ex­per­i­men­tal vac­cine are able to trig- ger the pro­duc­tion of an­ti­bod­ies against the Ebola virus.”

Fol­low- up anal­y­sis six and 12 months af­ter the vol­un­teers took the shot should de­ter­mine “whether a sin­gle in­jec­tion is enough to in­duce a last­ing im­mune re­sponse” or if booster in­jec­tions would be needed, HUG said.

Since the Ebola out­break be­gan in Guinea in De­cem­ber 2013, more than 25,000 peo­ple in nine coun­tries have been in­fected with the virus, and over 10,400 of them have died. All but a hand­ful of those deaths have oc­curred in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

HUG stressed Wed­nes­day that phase III clin­i­cal tri­als — aimed at testing for ef­fi­cacy — un­der­way in Guinea “will de­ter­mine whether the im­mune re­sponse trig­gered by this vac­cine is able to pro­tect the pop­u­la­tion against the Ebola virus.”

Those tri­als would also show whether large-scale vac­ci­na­tion cam­paigns were fea­si­ble, it said.

The tri­als at HUG were briefly suspended late last year af­ter sev­eral vol­un­teers ex­pe­ri­enced un­ex­pected joint pains, but re­sumed af­ter it cut the doses used.

The hos­pi­tal said Wed­nes­day that VSV-ZEBOV pro­voked in­flam­ma­tory re­ac­tions like fever and mus­cle pain in al­most all the vol- un­teers, which is com­mon in live vac­cines.

In one in five vol­un­teers how­ever, the vac­cine par­ti­cles reached joints and caused pain sim­i­lar to rheuma­tism for about 10 days, mostly in hands, feet, knees and el­bows.

Some vol­un­teers also de­vel­oped rashes for a few weeks, it said. But “not a sin­gle vol­un­teer had to miss work or be hos­pi­tal­ized,” HUG said.

An­other ex­per­i­men­tal vac­cine, ChAd3, made by Bri­tain’s Glax­oSmithK­line is also un­der­go­ing phase 1 tri­als in a range of coun­tries and started phase 3 tri­als in Liberia in Fe­bru­ary.

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