Injections are more and more proving to be a thing of the past, as soon, we’ll have an inhalable Ebola vaccine which will work just as well as its shot version. Studies conducted on this new solution are having promising results and it is soon scheduled to begin tests on humans.
Scientists from the Medical Branch of the University of Texas from Galveston have teamed up with people from the Bethesda, MD, National Institutes of Health in the very first attempt to test a vaccine against a viral hemorrhagic fever on monkeys.
Alexander Bukreyev, one of the scientists from the Texas team, said that this new vaccine is the first that actually works, after something closely resembling it has been tried for many decades. Yet, the fact that it works on the little rhesus macaques is definitely not an indication of it being sure to work on humans.
Just last month, a new, experimental vaccine, which had shown promising results upon testing on monkeys, has failed to work on human test subjects. Although further testing could have been done, it was decided that it was unethical to further ask for volunteers.
And that is mainly the problem here. Up until now, the current, aerosol vaccine has been tested on monkeys thusly: of a group of twelve test subjects, four were given one dose of vaccine, four were administered two doses, two were given the serum injection version, while two were control monkeys, and were infected, yet not given the vaccine. All the monkeys were subjected to 1.000 times the dose of Ebola proven to be fatal.
Even in monkeys, such an experiment is easily frowned upon. The results are promising, still.
No more than a week later, the control monkeys became infected and started showing severe symptoms. They were consequently euthanized. The other ten monkeys all remained healthy, even those that received a smaller dose of the vaccine. After tests had ended, the ten monkeys also had to be put down, so that the researchers could see if they had any trace of Ebola in their tissues, or in their blood. They did not.
The lead researcher, Michelle Meyer, concluded that even a single dose of the aerosol vaccine is more than enough to prevent a very strong Ebola infection. It not only prevents death, it is so potent, that it prevents even the symptoms from appearing.
Still, scientific voices are saying that this may not be “eureka!” yet, as the vaccine needs to be tested on humans. The procedure that scientists will choose for these further tests is subject to ethical dilemmas. The previous testing has already spurred lots of controversy, as there were no control patients who had to receive the virus yet only a placebo instead of the vaccine. This has been dubbed as unscientific, yet the researchers defended themselves by implying the moral issues involved.
The best bet for this vaccine, and why so much research is being put into it, is that it can be easily administered by the person who carries the disease, preventing the risk of infecting those around him.
Image source: citizen.co.za