- Scientists at the University of Texas are developing the breathable vaccine
- It has been shown to protect monkeys against the deadly virus
- Next step is to test vaccine on humans in phase one clinical trials
- Researchers said respiratory vaccine could overcome logistical problems of storing, transporting and administering injectable vaccines
Lizzie Parry for MailOnline
08:47 EST, 4 November 2014
13:27 EST, 4 November
A nasal spray being developed as a potential vaccine for the deadly Ebola virus has been found to be effective.
Scientists at the University of Texas discovered the breathable vaccine offers long-term protection during pre-clinical trials with monkeys.
Since the current outbreak erupted in West Africa earlier this year, almost 5,000 people have lost their lives – the majority in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
A number of injectable experimental vaccines are being trialled in the US, UK and Mali, with plans to extend human trials into other parts of Europe, Gabon and Kenya.
A nasal spray being developed as a potential vaccine for the Ebola virus (pictured under the microscope) has been found to protect monkeys in pre-clinical trials
There are vaccination trials ongoing in the US and UK. It is hoped the first results will be available next year
But researchers in Austin, Texas, say their small pre-clinical study is the only proof to date that a single dose of a non-injectable vaccine against Ebola is long-lasting.
They claim the discovery could have ‘significant global implications in controlling future outbreaks’.
A breathable vaccine could overcome the logistical obstacles of storing, transporting and administering injectable vaccines in parts of Africa most afflicted by the virus, the researchers said.
The work will be presented tomorrow at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Kristina Jonsson-Schmunk, a graduate in pharmacy and professor Dr Maria Croyle, and Dr Gary Kobinger and his team at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, developed the vaccine over seven years.
It was found to improve survival of immunised non-human primates from 67 per cent to 100 per cent, after challenge with 1,000 plaque forming units of Ebola Zaire 150 days after immunisation.
It is significant because only 50 per cent of the primates given the vaccine by the standard route – an injection into the muscle – survived challenge.
Ms Jonsson-Schmunk said: ‘Ebola causes devastating outbreaks with fatality rates of 25 to 90 per cent in Africa and Asia.
‘Although progress has been made in understanding the virus’ biology, no licensed vaccines or treatments currently exist.
‘There is a desperate need for a vaccine that not only prevents the continued transmission from person to person, but also aids in controlling future incidences.’
‘The main advantage of our vaccine platform over the others in clinical testing is the long-lasting protection after a single intranasal dose,’ Dr Croyle added.
Prayers are said for a victim of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone, as healthcare workers prepare to remove the body from public
Hearth workers cover the body of a man suspected of dying from the Ebola virus on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia. The World Health Organization said this week that the rate of infection in Liberia appears to be falling but warned that the response effort must be kept up or the trend could be reversed
‘This is important since the longevity of other vaccines for Ebola that are currently being evaluated is not fully understood.
‘Moreover, the nasal spray immunisation method is more attractive than a needle vaccine given the costs associated with syringe distribution, needle safety and disposal.’
The current Ebola outbreak in Western Africa is the largest and most complex epidemic since the virus was first discovered in 1976, according to the World Health Organisation.
With a fatality rate currently as high as 70 per cent, officials have declared this outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
The next stage of Dr Croyle and her team’s research is a phase one clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of their vaccine in human volunteers.
They also plan to further explore their initial data they have collected for the administration of the vaccine as a thin film under the tongue in non-human primates.
The study was published in the online edition of the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.
NO EBOLA VACCINE BECAUSE VIRUS ONLY AFFECTED POOR AFRICAN NATIONS, SAYS WHO CHIEF
A vaccine to protect millions from the Ebola virus decades after it was first detected does not exist because the disease previously only affected poor African nations.
The head of the World Health Organisation’s scathing conclusion came as nearly 5,000 people have lost their lives to the hemorrhagic fever – the majority in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Dr Margaret Chan, director general of the WHO, criticised drugs companies for turning their backs on ‘markets that cannot pay’.
WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: ‘Why are clinicians still empty handed, with no vaccines and no cure? Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations’
She said the current outbreak – the most deadly in history – has exposed two WHO arguments ‘that have fallen on deaf ears for decades’.
Addressing the regional committee for Africa in Benin yesterday, Dr Chan said: ‘Ebola emerged nearly four decades ago. Why are clinicians still empty handed, with no vaccines and no cure?
‘Because Ebola has historically been confined to poor African nations.
‘The R&D (research and development) incentive is virtually non-existent.
‘A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay.
‘WHO has been trying to make this issue visible for ages. Now people can see it for themselves.’