An experimental Ebola vaccine has been found to be safe for humans, according to the results of an early clinical trial developed at the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory of the Public Health Agency of Canada. The researchers also found that high antibodies were present in participants six months after immunisation, indicating its potential to protect people from the deadly virus. This VSV (vesicular stomatitis virus)-Ebola vaccine brings new hope.
“The results of this trial were positive and very promising,” said May ElSherif from the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology. “All three dose levels of the VSV Ebola vaccine were well-tolerated by participants, and no safety concerns were identified,” added ElSherif. The study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
The trial involved 40 healthy people aged 18 to 65 years and looked at the safety of the vaccine and the lowest dose required for an immune response after injection with one of three doses. Out of the 40 people, 30 participants received the vaccine and 10 received placebo injections. The researchers found that adverse events were mild to moderate, with only three severe reactions, including headache, diarrhea and fatigue, which were completely resolved. This study shows the importance of further investigation, according to the researchers.
There have been some recent clusters of Ebola cases in Africa and more are expected as survivors may still spread the virus to uninfected people. The research team conducted the clinical trial “as part of a coordinated, international effort to expeditiously evaluate candidate EVD (Ebola virus disease) vaccines and make them available to control the epidemic,” said ElSherif.
An upcoming study at two sites in Africa, as well as in Montréal and Ottawa in Canada, will test the safety and protection levels of the VSV-Ebola vaccine in HIV-infected adults and adolescents. The vaccine was earlier found to be effective in preventing EVD in contacts of recently confirmed cases in a major trial.