A team of Canadian and American researchers have tested a vaccine for the ebola virus on primates, and it seems to be working. They hope that what they’ve learned from finding a vaccine for ebola can be applied to other viruses like HIV/AIDs.
â€œEbola virus is a Biosafety Level 4 threat, along with many other haemorrhagic fever virusesâ€, says Dr Sanchez. â€œAs well as the difficulty in getting the right staff and facilities, vaccines for viruses like Ebola, Marburg and Lassa fever have been difficult to produce because simple â€˜killedâ€™ viruses that just trigger an antibody response from the blood are not effective. For these viruses we need to get a cell-mediated response, which involves our bodies producing killer T-cells before immunity is strong enough to prevent or clear an infection.â€
The researchers have now used several different recombinant DNA techniques, which have allowed them to trigger a cell-mediated response and produce a vaccine that is effective in non-human primates. One of the candidate vaccines is about to be tested on people for the first time, after entering Phase 1 clinical trials in autumn 2006.