An experimental Ebola vaccine, being co-developed by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) and GlaxoSmithKline, is to undergo accelerated human trials with funding from an international consortium in response to the epidemic. This vaccine could be administered to healthy volunteers in the United Kingdom (UK), The Gambia, and Mali as early as September.
The series of safety tests of the vaccine along with similar trials in the United States are being backed by a £2.8 million grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This funding also allows GlaxoSmithKline to manufacture ~10,000 additional doses of the vaccine at the same time so that a supply can be made available to high-risk communities if the trials are found successful.
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Phase 1 trials will begin pending ethical and regulatory approvals already being considered on an expedited basis. A parallel study led by the Oxford team (60 healthy volunteers) will also be occurring to help accelerate these trials. If the volunteers vaccinated in the Oxford study show a good response with no adverse reactions, the trial will be extended to volunteers at the MRC Unit in Gambia (40 healthy volunteers). Then, a second West African arm of the study will begin in Bamako, Mali (40 healthy volunteers). In the United States, a second vaccine designed to protect against 2 Ebola species (Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan) will also be tested in addition to the candidate vaccine.
The vaccine targets the Zaire species of Ebola, which is circulating in West Africa. It utilizes a single Ebola virus protein to generate an immune response and does not contain infectious virus material.
Researchers hope to complete Phase 1 trials by the end of 2014, which will allow vaccine deployment to be fast-tracked if it is found to be effective.
For more information visit GSK.com.