British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Emergent BioSolutions and the University of Oxford have commenced a new Phase I study of Ebola vaccine candidates.

The trial will study the use of a modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA) Ebola Zaire vaccine candidate (MVA EBOZ) as a prime-boost to GSK’s Chimp Adenovirus type 3 (ChAd3) Ebola vaccine candidate.

The trial obtained regulatory approval from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and is being carried out by clinical research group of professor Adrian Hill of the Jenner Institute at Oxford.

"Production of the first ever batch of MVA for a clinical trial using a cell line is a milestone in the development of this important vaccine technology."

Adrian Hill said: "Production of the first ever batch of MVA for a clinical trial using a cell line is a milestone in the development of this important vaccine technology.

"This new process, which will allow very large scale production, will be of value not only for Ebola prevention, but also for a wide range of other disease indications including malaria and tuberculosis vaccination."

According to Emergent, the study will enrol 38 volunteers, of which six will receive MVA EBOZ while the other 32 will receive ChAd3-EBO-Z prime followed by MVA EBOZ boost.

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The MVA EBOZ is manufactured by Emergent that is being used in the Phase 1 study, which is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the UK Department for International Development.

GSK vaccines chairman Dr Moncef Slaoui said: "We believe there is benefit in exploring different approaches such as a prime-boost strategy as we continue to develop our ChAd3 Ebola candidate vaccine."

Image: Electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion. Photo: courtesy of CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith.