Experimental vaccine shields monkeys against Ebola

Researchers recently announced that they have designed a vaccine that protects monkeys from at least three different strains of the Ebola virus.

J. Sullivan, of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Vaccine Research Center, led the research. She told businessweek.com that the experimental vaccine was tested on macaque monkeys. After being exposed to the disease, the monkeys showed no signs of illness, according to Sullivan’s research. Meanwhile, four monkeys who were exposed to Ebola at the same time became sick and three died.

Researchers are currently looking at how and why the vaccines may have worked as efficiently as they seemed to have.

“Once we identify those critical aspects, we can design future vaccines to better elicit that desired immune cell-based activity and perhaps make a single vaccine that protects against all Ebola virus species,” Sullivan told businessweek.com.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed the vaccine was breakthrough.

“This shows that it is possible to generate immunity to newly identified species of Ebola virus with a vaccine originally designed to protect against a different species,” Fauci told businessweek.com. “This finding will guide future vaccine design and may open an avenue for developing a single vaccine that works against both known and emerging Ebola virus species.”

The Ebola virus is a lethal virus that is indigenous to Africa and kills its victims with fever and profuse internal bleeding. Until now, researchers have not been able to treat or prevent the spread of the virus.