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NIAID Ebola vaccine enters human trial

The first human trial of a vaccine designed to prevent Ebola infection opened today. Scientists from the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), designed the vaccine, which was administered to a volunteer at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda. The vaccine does not contain any infectious material from the Ebola virus.

Just three years ago, VRC Director Gary Nabel, M.D., Ph.D., together with a team of scientists from the VRC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, described an experimental Ebola vaccine that fully protected monkeys from lethal infection by the virus. One component of that vaccine will now be assessed for safety in human volunteers. The trial vaccine, a type called a DNA vaccine, is similar to other investigational vaccines that hold promise for controlling such diseases as AIDS, influenza, malaria and hepatitis.

"This trial is further evidence of the ability of the VRC to rapidly translate basic research into tangible products," notes NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Our accelerated effort to understand and combat Ebola infection is part of the NIAID commitment to its biodefense mission. An effective Ebola vaccine not only would provide a life-saving advance in countries where the disease occurs naturally, it also would provide a
medical tool to discourage the use of Ebola virus as an agent of bioterrorism."

Outbreaks of Ebola in Africa kill up to 90 percent of those infected. No effective treatment exists for this highly infectious disease, which causes extensive internal bleeding and rapid death. According to experts, vaccination is the best strategy for preventing or containing this deadly infection.

A gap of two decades separated the first Ebola epidemic of 1976 and the next, which arose in 1995. In recent years, for reasons unknown, outbreaks of Ebola are occurring with increasing fre
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Contact: Contact: Anne A. Oplinger
aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
18-Nov-2003


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