Ebola Whole Virus Vaccine





Health, 04 Apr - 2015 ,

Ebola Whole Virus Vaccine
Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The vaccine, described on March 26, 2015 in the journal Science, was developed by a group led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on avian influenza, Ebola and other viruses of medical importance

An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.

The vaccine, described on March 26, 2015 in the journal Science, was developed by a group led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on avian influenza, Ebola and other viruses of medical importance. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.

The vaccine was constructed on an experimental platform first devised in 2008 by Peter Halfmann, a research scientist in Kawaoka's lab. The system allows researchers to safely work with the virus thanks to the deletion of a key gene known as VP30, which the Ebola virus uses to make a protein required for it to reproduce in host cells. Ebola virus has only eight genes and, like most viruses, depends on the molecular machinery of host cells to grow and become infectious.

By engineering monkey kidney cells to express the VP30 protein, the virus can be safely studied in the lab and be used as a basis for devising countermeasures like a whole virus vaccine. The vaccine reported by Kawaoka and his colleagues was additionally chemically inactivated using hydrogen peroxide, according to the new Science report.

Ebola first emerged in 1976 in Sudan and Zaire. The current outbreak in West Africa has so far claimed more than 10,000 lives. There are no proven treatments or vaccines, although several vaccine platforms have been devised in recent years, four of which recently advanced to the clinical trial stage in humans.


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