University of Oxford’s new Ebola vaccine enters clinical trials

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Human trials have reportedly begun for a novel Ebola vaccine produced by the University of Oxford, with the specific goal of combating the two strains that are responsible for almost all outbreaks as well as deaths around the world.

According to reports, the university has begun the Phase I trial to assess the efficacy of the vaccine on human volunteers, with the first injections scheduled for November 11th, 2021.

The study is presently looking for more volunteers. The Ebola virus comes in four different strains, each of which can cause sickness in people.

The new vaccine is intended to combat the Sudan and Zaire strains, the latter of which is the most dangerous, killing 70% to 90% of the infected if left untreated.

Moreover, Zaire is further responsible for a great deal of epidemics, notably the West Africa pandemic of 2014-16 and the 2018 outbreak in eastern DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), which led to more than 32,000 individuals being infected, killing over 13,600.

Although other Ebola vaccines do exist, that are primarily based on the dominant Zaire species, Oxford researchers anticipate that the new vaccine will boast of a broader reach.

At the University of Oxford, 26 participants aged 18 to 55 would get one shot of the Ebola vaccine, dubbed ChAdOx1 biEBOV, in the initial clinical studies.

The participants would then be monitored over a duration of six months, with the researchers announcing the outcomes of the trial in the second quarter of 2022.

The vaccine is supposedly derived from a weakened strain of the common cold virus which has been genetically altered so that it cannot replicate itself in humans.

Dr. Daniel Jenkin, the principal investigator of the clinical trials, stated that recent advancements have resulted in the approval of vaccines that fight against one of the viruses that causes Ebola.

Nevertheless, Ebola can still be caused by a plethora of different virus species, with each one potentially requiring a specific, targeted immune reaction to provide immunity.

Jenkin further added that the novel vaccine is designed to tackle the two virus species that have been responsible for practically all Ebola outbreaks as well as deaths. Now the institute looks ahead to test its novel candidate in a Phase I clinical trials.

Source credit: https://news.sky.com/story/clinical-trials-start-for-new-ebola-vaccine-developed-by-the-university-of-oxford-12465671