Thanks to more than $249 million in U.S. funds financing the team’s research, the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) recently announced that the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has started to plan clinical trials for an Ebola vaccine.
The Ebola vaccine, part of IMI’s Ebola+ program, contains a prime-boost regimen by Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a branch of Johnson & Johnson.
Beginning in January 2015, researchers will administer trial subjects with a prime to elicit an immune response. Then the boost will further increase the subject’s immune response over time. These two steps will produce an efficient and long-lasting immune response to prevent Ebola from spreading.
Unlike other vaccines, the prime-boost Ebola regimen is not comprised of the replicating virus; it is impossible to become infected with Ebola from the vaccine.
Phase II and II trials will take place in Europe and Africa simultaneously. These trials will include more subjects. Once they have received the vaccine, the researchers will be able to collect more information about the tolerability and safety of the treatment. It will be helpful to have more information about how the treatment affects the elderly and children.
All of the trials are to determine the tolerability and safety of the new vaccine.
The researchers are also taking steps to remove the stigma about Ebola vaccines.
"It is vital that we work together to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine, both for the current epidemic and future outbreaks,” said Professor Peter Piot, co-discoverer of Ebola and director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “We must take this opportunity to make sure that this is the last Ebola epidemic in which our only tools to control it are isolation and quarantine."
“There is no vaccine or treatment against Ebola as yet, so we must urgently step up our efforts in Ebola research,” Carlos Moedas, European commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said. “With this funding from Horizon 2020 and our industry partners, we are speeding up the development of an Ebola vaccine as well as rapid diagnostic tests to aid heroic health workers. These are the tools we need to defeat Ebola once and for all.”