During 2014, the outbreak of the West African Makona strain of Ebola Zaire virus killed nearly 10,000 and caused worldwide concern. With increasing population growth in West Africa, the frequency of contact between humans and natural Ebola virus hosts such as bats will likely rise, potentially leading to more catastrophic outbreaks.
Many vaccine approaches have shown promise in being able to protect nonhuman primates against Ebola Zaire. In response to the Ebola Zaire outbreak, several of these vaccines have been fast tracked for human use.
A novel Ebola vaccine (rSV-ZEBOV) has been developed by researchers at the University of Texas Medical School (UTMB) at Galveston in collaboration with Profectus Biosciences (a clinical-stage vaccine company developing novel vaccines for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases) based on the Profectus VesiculoVax™-vectored vaccine.
The attenuated rSV-ZEBOV, a recombinant stomatitis virus(rSV)-based vaccine expressing the Zaire Ebola virus (ZEBOV) glycoprotein rendered rapid and complete protection in a single dose from lethal challenge by the deadly Makona strain of the Ebola virus (study published in Nature).
UTMB researchers identified key vesiculoviruses that could be used as vaccine vectors while scientists at Profectus helped to introduce multiple non-reversible genetic modifications that synergistically attenuate the virus and provide a vector that is safe for human use. This is a big step in the development of an effective, single dose vaccine regime for the current Ebola virus outbreaks and could be developed further for future outbreaks.
“It was not known whether any of these vaccines could provide protection against the new outbreak West African Makona strain of Ebola Zaire currently circulating in Guinea,” said John Eldridge, Chief Scientific Officer-Vaccines at Profectus Biosciences, Inc. “Our findings show that our candidate vaccines provided complete, single dose protection from a lethal amount of the Makona strain of Ebola virus.”
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the UTMB Department of Microbiology and Immunology.