The Lancet: Trial confirms Ebola vaccine candidate safe and equally immunogenic in Africa

December 22, 2014

Two experimental DNA vaccines to prevent Ebola virus and the closely related Marburg virus [1] are safe, and generated a similar immune response in healthy Ugandan adults as reported in healthy US adults earlier this year. The findings, from the first trial of filovirus vaccines in Africa, are published in The Lancet.

"This is the first study to show comparable safety and immune response of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an African population", says lead author Dr Julie Ledgerwood from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, USA. "This is particularly encouraging because those at greatest risk of Ebola live primarily in Africa, and diminished vaccine protection in African populations has been seen for other diseases." [2]

Scientists from the NIAID developed the DNA vaccines that code for Ebola virus proteins from the Zaire and Sudan strains [3] and the Marburg virus protein. The vaccines contain the construction plans for the proteins on the outer surface of the virus. Immune responses against these proteins have shown to be highly protective in non-human primate models.

In this phase 1 trial, the Makerere University Walter Reed Program enrolled 108 healthy adults aged between 18 and 50 from Kampala, Uganda between November, 2009 and April, 2010. Each volunteer was randomly assigned to receive an intramuscular injection of either the Ebola vaccine (30 volunteers), Marburg vaccine (30), both vaccines (30), or placebo (18) at the start of the study, and again 4 weeks and 8 weeks later.

The vaccines given separately and together were safe and stimulated an immune response in the form of neutralising antibodies and T-cells against the virus proteins. Four weeks after the third injection, just over half of the volunteers (57%; 17 of 30) had an antibody response to the Ebola Zaire protein as did 14 of 30 participants who received both the Ebola and Marburg vaccines. However, the antibodies were not long-lasting and returned to undetectable levels within 11 months of vaccination.

Both DNA vaccines were well tolerated in Ugandan adults with similar numbers of local and systemic reactions reported in all groups. Only one serious adverse event (neutropenia; low white blood cell count) was reported in a Marburg vaccine only recipient, but was not thought to be vaccine related.

According to Dr Ledgerwood, "These findings have already formed the basis of a more potent vaccine, delivered using a harmless chimpanzee cold virus, which is undergoing trials in the USA, UK, Mali, and Uganda in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak." [2]

Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Saranya Sridhar from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford in the UK says, "[This] study deserves to be the focal point around which the broader question of vaccine development, particularly for Africa, must be addressed. With the uncharitable benefit of hindsight in view of the evolving 2014 Ebola outbreak, we must ask ourselves whether a filovirus vaccine should have been in more advanced clinical development. The international response to the present Ebola outbreak is an exemplar of the speed and purpose with which clinical vaccine development can progress and has set the benchmark against which future vaccine development must be judged. This study is the first step on the aspirational road towards the deployment of filovirus vaccines in Africa and must serve to shake the metaphorical cobwebs that can stall our advance towards this destination."
-end-
NOTES TO EDITORS:

The study was funded by the US Department of Defense Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program and US National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program.

[1] Outbreaks of Ebola virus and Marburg virus infections have occurred sporadically since they were first detected in 1976 and 1967 respectively, and have a case fatality rate as high as 90% and 80% respectively. Like the Ebola virus, Marburg is a filovirus that causes internal bleeding at multiple sites with patients usually dying as a result of multiple organ failure. Currently, no effective vaccines against either virus exist.

[2] Quotes direct from author and cannot be found in text of Article.

[3] The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa involves the Zaire strain.

The Lancet

Related Immune Response Articles from Brightsurf:

Boosting chickens' own immune response could curb disease
Broiler chicken producers the world over are all too familiar with coccidiosis, a parasite-borne intestinal disease that stalls growth and winnows flocks.

Cells sacrifice themselves to boost immune response to viruses
Whether flu or coronavirus, it can take several days for the body to ramp up an effective response to a viral infection.

Children's immune response more effective against COVID-19
Children and adults exhibit distinct immune system responses to infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, a finding that helps explain why COVID-19 outcomes tend to be much worse in adults, researchers from Yale and Albert Einstein College of Medicine report Sept.

Which immune response could cause a vaccine against COVID-19?
Immune reactions caused by vaccination can help protect the organism, or sometimes may aggravate the condition.

Obesity may alter immune system response to COVID-19
Obesity may cause a hyperactive immune system response to COVID-19 infection that makes it difficult to fight off the virus, according to a new manuscript published in the Endocrine Society's journal, Endocrinology.

Immune response to Sars-Cov-2 following organ transplantation
Even patients with suppressed immune systems can achieve a strong immune response to Sars-Cov-2.

'Relaxed' T cells critical to immune response
Rice University researchers model the role of relaxation time as T cells bind to invaders or imposters, and how their ability to differentiate between the two triggers the body's immune system.

A novel mechanism that triggers a cellular immune response
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine present comprehensive evidence that supports a novel trigger for a cell-mediated response and propose a mechanism for its action.

Platelets exacerbate immune response
Platelets not only play a key role in blood clotting, but can also significantly intensify inflammatory processes.

How to boost immune response to vaccines in older people
Identifying interventions that improve vaccine efficacy in older persons is vital to deliver healthy ageing for an ageing population.

Read More: Immune Response News and Immune Response Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.