This finding is the result of collaboration between scientists at the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center (VRC), part of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and scientists at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, MD.
"This research has enormous public health implications not only because it might be used to limit the spread of Ebola virus, which continues to emerge in central Africa, but also because this vaccine strategy may be applied to other highly lethal viruses, such as the Marburg and Lassa fever viruses and the SARS coronavirus, that cause acute disease outbreaks and require a rapid response," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.
Under the directorship of Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., scientists at the VRC have been pursuing the so-called "prime-boost" vaccine strategy against a variety of infectious diseases. Prime-boost is a two-part process: First, an injection of non-infectious genetic material from the disease-causing microbe primes the immune system to respond. Second, several weeks later, an injection of attenuated carrier viruses containing key genes from the microbe substantially boosts the immune response.
The VRC scientists found that the boost alone produces a quicker but weaker immune response as compared with the prime-boost strategy. Knowing that time is critical when fighting Ebola, the scientists decided to test whether the boost's fast response was strong enough on its own to protect against the disease.
Contact: Jeff Minerd
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases