Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ebola vaccine to be tested in UK

Ebola vaccine to be tested on UK volunteersBy Smitha MundasadHealth reporter, BBC News Health care workers are among those most at risk of catching Ebola

A test vaccine against Ebola could be given to healthy volunteers in the UK in September, according to an international health consortium.
The trial will start as soon as ethical approval is granted, experts at the Wellcome Trust say.
If the vaccine works well, the study will extend to The Gambia and Mali.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus could affect 20,000 people during this outbreak which is expected to continue for many months.
Global outbreak
The latest figures show that more than 1,550 people have died from the virus, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases – mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Researchers hope the vaccine will prevent people from catching the disease in these countries, but will first test the medicine in unaffected populations.
The vaccine consists a single Ebola virus protein which triggers an immune response once it enters the body – but they say this cannot cause anyone who is given it to become infected.
In the first part of the study it will be trialled on 60 healthy volunteers and if shown to be safe and working well it will then be administered to 80 volunteers in The Gambia and Mali.
The vaccine could then start to be offered more widely in affected countries during 2015.
‘Future epidemics’
Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “This epidemic has shown how difficult it can be to control Ebola.
“How useful drugs and vaccines might be in complementing existing public health interventions can only be assessed in epidemics.
“The initial safety work we’re announcing with our international partners will hopefully make that possible during this crisis and for inevitable future epidemics.”
Dr Moncef Slaoui, at GlaxoSmithKline, the company working on the vaccine, said: “Developing a new vaccine is complex with no guarantees of success and it is still early days for our Ebola vaccine candidate.
“But we are encouraged by progress so far and will do the best we can, along with WHO and our partners, to speed up development and explore ways in which the vaccine could contribute to the control of this or future Ebola outbreaks.”
The vaccine study, led by scientists at the University of Oxford, is planned to run alongside similar trials in the United States.
The Wellcome Trust, the UK Department for International Development and the Medical Research Council are providing a 2.8m grant for this project.
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)Fruit bats are believed to be a major carrier of the Ebola virus but do not show symptoms
  • Symptoms include high fever, muscle pain, bleeding and intense weakness
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% – but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 55%
  • The virus is spread through close contact with the bodily fluids of infected individuals
  • There is no proven vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats, a delicacy for some West Africans, are considered to be virus’s natural host
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