Australian virus may be key to Ebola vaccine

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Led by researchers at the University of Queensland, an international group of scientists recently used Kunjin, an Australian virus, to create a promising experimental Ebola vaccine.

The research team, comprised of scientists from Australia, Russia and France, found that their experimental Ebola vaccine provides notable protection against the Ebola virus.

“We immunized four African green monkeys with a vaccine made from the Kunjin virus engineered to produce an Ebola virus protein,” Professor Alexander Khromykh, with the University of Queensland’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said. “We vaccinated them twice in an interval of four weeks, before challenging them with a dose of the Ebola virus three weeks later.”

Of the four immunized monkeys, 3 of them were completely protected against the Ebola virus. 

Although initial results were promising, additional testing needs to be done before the Phase 1 clinical trials involving human subjects can begin.

The experimental vaccine is just one of many treatment options being developed in light of the largest ever Ebola outbreak, which began in West Africa in 2014. 

“The large scale of this ongoing outbreak in West Africa has triggered the urgent need for an effective vaccine,” Khromykh said. “This is particularly so for Ebola crisis responders such as health care workers, as well as other groups such as those sharing accommodation with known or suspected infected individuals.”

A full report of the Australian study was recently published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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University of Queensland

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