Monday, June 06, 2005
Monkey vaccine a step toward Ebola prevention in humans
Scientists trying to develop vaccines against Africa's deadly Marburg and Ebola viruses are reporting an important milestone, a new type of vaccine that prevents the diseases in monkeys. Successfully immunizing monkeys is an essential step toward producing vaccines for people.
Two new vaccines, one for Marburg and one for Ebola, were 100 percent effective in a study of 12 macaques published today in the journal Nature Medicine. Monkeys given just one shot of vaccine and later injected with a high dose of virus did not even get sick. Normally, all the animals would be expected to die.
The Marburg and Ebola viruses are closely related, and in both people and monkeys they cause hemorrhagic fevers that can be fatal within a week. There is no vaccine or treatment for either disease.
The new vaccines are still experimental, and will not be ready to be tested in people for at least two years. If human trials are successful, products might be ready for licensing five or six years from now, the researchers said. The vaccines would not be used for routine immunization, but would be given to health workers in high risk areas, virus researchers and people who had been exposed to the disease, such as relatives and other close contacts of sick patients.
Posted by C. at 1:35 PM