Scientists identify antibody role in Ebola vaccine

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Oregon Health & Science University recently discovered that an experimental vaccine is capable of eliciting an antibody response against the Ebola virus in non-human primates.

There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus infection, which has a fatality rate approaching 90 percent. Ebola causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and non-human primates, and infection may lead to shock, profuse bleeding and organ failure, according to the World Health Organization.

Several groups are in the process of developing novel vaccines against Ebola virus and the closely-related Marburg virus. The majority of these approaches are based on DNA, recombinant adenovirus, virus-like particles and human parainfluenza virus 3. How the vaccines elicit a protective response is generally unclear.

In the study, the scientists worked with an experimental vaccine composed of an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus carrying a gene that codes for an Ebola virus protein. They found that important immune cells had a minimal role in providing protection to nonhuman primates, while antibodies appeared to play a critical role.

The researchers believe their work will help improve future attempts to make a successful Ebola virus vaccine. Their future work will focus on what level of antibody production is needed to establish protection in humans.

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