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Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Potential

Appeared to provoke good immune response in Chinese study; larger trials needed

WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) — An experimental Ebola vaccine shows promise in an early clinical trial, but requires much more testing, according to a study published online March 24 in The Lancet.

The vaccine is based on the strain of Ebola that has been circulating in the West African outbreak. The researchers note that, until now, all tested Ebola vaccines have been based on the Ebola strain from the 1976 outbreak in Zaire. The vaccine was developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and Tianjin CanSino Biotechnology in China. Both helped fund the study, along with China National Science and Technology.

The trial included 120 healthy adults in China who received either a low or high dose of the vaccine, or a placebo. Twenty-eight days later, 38 of 40 people in the low-dose group and all 40 of those in the high-dose group showed an immune response to the vaccine. No serious side effects occurred among the participants who received the vaccine.

“On the basis of our findings, we believe that the Ebola vaccine we assessed has some potential, and a significant advantage of this type of vaccine is that [it is] stable and much easier to store or transport in tropical areas with inadequate cold-chain capacity, such as Africa,” research team leader Fengcai Zhu, from the Jiangsu provincial center for disease prevention and control in China, said in a journal news release. “However, whether this candidate vaccine could become a final vaccine for widespread use against Ebola outbreaks is still uncertain,” Zhu added. “Furthermore, these results only assess immune response up to 28 days, so we plan to assess the persistence of the specific immune response by following up the vaccine recipients of this study.”

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