An Ebola vaccine has been developed by the Canadian Government and licensed to NewLink Genetics. Vesticular stomatitis virus, a virus harmless to humans, was genetically modified to produce a protein made by the Ebola virus. This protein should trigger the production of antibodies against Ebola.
Two clinical trials of the Canadian Ebola Vaccine, VSV-ZEBOV, are currently recruiting volunteers in Bethesda Maryland. They are investigating the safety of the vaccine, trying to find the optimal dose, and testing participant’s blood for antibodies against the Ebola protein. So far low grade fever and muscle aches, which are common reactions to vaccination, have been observed. Additional Safety trials will soon start in Germany, Switzerland, Gabon and Kenya.
VSV-ZEBOV is one of the two vaccines (along with the NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine) that will start placebo controlled trials in high-risk populations in West Africa in December. This vaccine development process would usually take years and has been condensed to weeks. The World Health Organization is aiming to have hundreds of thousands of doses available in 2015. It’s exciting to see Canada making such a contribution to the fight against Ebola!