As the Ebola virus continues to wreak havoc in West Africa, a new Ebola vaccine will be tested on humans for the first time this week. The vaccine is being developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and GlaxoSmithKline, and it could protect health workers from contracting the disease while helping those that are already infected. So far, the vaccine has performed “extremely well” in primate studies, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH.
The Ebola vaccine trial has been expedited since the World Health Organization warned last week the Ebola outbreak could infect as many as 20,000 people. It’s still unclear if the vaccine will be ready in time to help combat the current outbreak, but the timetable is being sped up in case the trials are successful.
According to ABC News, the vaccine was originally projected to be administered to a limited number of health workers by late 2015. But GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement that a grant will enable it to manufacture 10,000 doses of the vaccine while trials are ongoing. And if the trials are successful, it will make the stocks available immediately to the World Health Organization.
The phase 1 clinical trial is set to begin this week at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and will involve 20 human subjects between the ages of 18 and 50, according to the NIH. Researchers will use the study to determine whether the vaccine is safe and to see whether it prompts an immune response necessary to protect against Ebola. No human subjects will be infected with Ebola.
A $4.7 million grant will also go toward Ebola vaccine trials in September at the University of Oxford in England, as well as centers in Gambia and Mali, according to GlaxoSmithKline. In all, 140 patients will be tested. The NIH said it should have initial data from the trial in late 2014.
Photos by DFID – UK Department for International Development (Flickr: Bracing for a short, sharp jab) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons and by U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Michael W. Pendergrass. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons