Vaccine for EBOLA?
There are several things about Ebola that we do not know, such
as where the virus remains during dormant periods. Some
reserchers think that Ebola lives and reproduces in a natural
host, but no one knows what that host is, nor how the virus is
carried to humans. In addition, there are no
known ways to prevent or really effectively
treat the virus, except for educating the
general public and working with the virus only
under Biosafety Level 4 (BSL4) conditions.
However, researchers at Louisiana State University Medical
Center have recently discovered something important
about Ebola: that
it bears similarities to the virus that causes AIDS.
Similarities were found in the sequences of amino acids that
stud the surfaces of HIV and Ebola and the LSU team was even
able to synthesize an Ebola virus protein sequence that could
lead to the development of a drug that blocks its power to
Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical
Center in Ann Arbor and the CDC are also currently
exploring the development of a possible vaccine, a
risk-free innoculation that will protect against the
Ebola virus. By injecting 16 guinea pigs with the
genes that normally
encode the virus' proteins, the researchers were able
to render 15 of the pigs immune to Ebola when exposed
to it less than 2 months later, while six unvaccinated
guinea pigs died. Of the 10 guinea pigs exposed to the
live virus 4 months after inoculation, 7 survived and
all of the unvaccinated animals died.
An Army research team is also venturing into making a
vaccine a different way: they generate a
self-replicating RNA molecule from a modified
Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and use it to
carry an Ebola or Marburg virus gene that encodes a
Just recently, the team has just begun testing their
technique on cynomolgus macaque monkeys, the first
study of primates using an Ebola gene vaccine.