Officials of the NIH Say There are ‘Encouraging Results’ in Primates
The USA’s National Institute of Health (NIH) is set to launch an early stage trial of an expertimental ebola vaccine candidate, the diseas which has killed 729 in the largest outbreak to date.
The NIH has been developing an ebola vaccine for the past few years, and has had some positive results in pre-clinical trials in primates.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of health, has said that he is working with the FDA wit the aim of fast tracking the experimental vaccine into phase I clinical trials. These phase I trials would endeavor to find out whether the vaccine is safe to be administered in humans.
If these studies take place in September, results from the trials could be expected as early as January 2015. If the vaccine were to be found safe and effective, it could be administered to health care workers in Africa sometime in 2015.
The NIH is in discussions with pharmaceutical companies to help scale up the trial and manufacturing process so that the vaccine can be available to health care workers that are at high risk, in 2015.
The disease, which has a fatality rate of up to 90%, has infected more than 1,300 people in west Africa, including international health care workers, according to the World Health Organisation.
Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for Ebola, however, according to Thomas Geisbert, a professor at at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, scientists are currently developing 5 prophylactic (preventative) vaccine candidates that appear to be effective.
Fauci has said that although the NIH is working steadily towards their Ebola vaccine, they are struggling to obtain ‘buy-in’ from wealthy pharmaceutical companies who do not see an Ebola vaccine as a profitable endeavour, as outbreaks tend to be irregular and small.
The normally stringent policies and requirements of the FDA have allowed for exceptions with regards to the development of an Ebola vaccine, as there is an urgent and unmet need for it.
The NIH recently gave Geisbert’s lab $26 million in research grant money over a 5-year period to research three of the most promising treatment candidates for Ebola. Of these three treatments, one of them includes a man-made antibody candidate, a Canadian drug from Tekmira pharmaceuticals which has been shown to protect monkeys from Ebola, and another vaccine that has been shown to prevent infection and treat it.
Gesibert has said that one of his team’s goals is to combine these treatments, much in the same way as AIDS medications are combines for greater effect.
The current outbreak is the largest and most diffcult to contain, as quarantining large populations in densely populated cities is challenging.