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Promising Results for Precursor of Ebola Vaccine in Small Study

Precursor of vaccine, now being tested in West Africa, produced immune response in Ugandans

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A precursor of the experimental Ebola vaccine that U.S. officials are preparing to test in West Africa has produced a safe and potent immune response in Africans. The findings have been published online Dec. 22 in The Lancet.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is set to begin West African clinical trials for a new Ebola vaccine based on a chimpanzee cold virus, called chimp adenovirus type 3. The vaccine uses the chimp virus to deliver pieces of Ebola genetic material to human cells, which hopefully will prompt an immune response that protects against infection. The earlier vaccine used a less efficient DNA-based carrier to deliver the exact same Ebola genetic material that's contained in the new vaccine, study author Julie Ledgerwood, D.O., chief of the clinical trials program in the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Vaccine Research Center, told HealthDay.

One hundred eight healthy adults aged 18 to 50 from Uganda were randomly assigned between November 2009 and April 2010 to receive either the Ebola vaccine, a similar vaccine designed to prevent deadly Marburg virus, both vaccines at the same time, or an inactive placebo. Participants received a series of three shots over eight weeks, and then researchers tracked their health and immune system response.

Both vaccines proved safe when given either separately or together, and both produced an immune response, the researchers reported. About half of the participants developed antibodies in response to the Ebola vaccine, which targeted two different strains of the virus, and the Marburg vaccine, the investigators found.

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