University of Maryland School of Medicine’s (UM SOM) Centre for Vaccine Development (CVD) together with CVD-Mali and the Ministry of Health of Mali have started a clinical trial of Ebola vaccine on Malian health care workers.
The vaccine was developed by the Vaccine Research Centre (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland.
It consists of an adenovirus (cold virus) that develops a single attachment protein of Ebola virus in humans without creating any harm to human body.
The trial started with the first subject being administered with the vaccine on 8 October, followed by two more the next day. Another 37 Malian health care workers are expected to participate in the trial during the coming weeks.
Centre for Vaccine Development (CVD) director Myron Levine said: "This research will give us crucial information about whether the vaccine is safe, well tolerated and capable of stimulating adequate immune responses in the highest priority target population, health care workers in West Africa.
"If it works, in the foreseeable future it could help alter the dynamic of this epidemic by interrupting transmission to health care and other exposed front-line workers."
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The trial follows two months of effort by a consortium led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to bring this vaccine into clinical studies in West Africa.
The consortium includes the VRC, the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, the CVD-UM SOM and CVD-Mali, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Biologicals and the Wellcome Trust.
The UK Government has funded the clinical trials to be carried out in the country and Mali, while additional financial support was provided by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Meanwhile, the MRC Unit-the Gambia is due to start a second, parallel clinical trial in the Gambia, West Africa, after receiving all necessary ethical, regulatory agency, technical and administrative approvals.
Image: The vaccine is expected to provide protection in non-human primates exposed to Ebola without significant side effects. Photo: courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine.