Updated
October 2nd, 2019

Japan To Test Ebola Vaccine Candidate

UW-Madison Ebola vaccine candidate is a whole virus vaccine using 7 of the 8 genes that make up the Ebola virus

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Another Ebola Disease virus vaccine candidate will be used in a limited phase 1 clinical trial expected to start in Japan during December 2019, said a UW-Madison researcher.

This is potentially good news since there is no approved vaccine for the Ebola Zaire disease today.

This experimental Ebola vaccine, developed in the lab of UW-Madison scientist Yoshihiro Kawaoka, was produced at Waisman Biomanufacturing, a specialized center at the university’s Waisman Center.

The vaccine uses a technology created a decade ago by Peter Halfmann, a scientist in Kawaoka’s lab. 

The technology has been safely used to study the virus, identify potential drugs against it and make the vaccine, according to a UW-Madison article published on September 30, 2019. In 2015, Kawaoka reported that the vaccine protected monkeys from Ebola virus infection in experiments conducted at a high-level containment facility in Montana.

Other Ebola vaccine candidates use vector viruses to deliver a single Ebola protein to the immune system. 

The UW-Madison version, considered a “whole-virus” vaccine, uses 7 of the 8 genes that make up the Ebola virus. The UW-Madison vaccine is missing a key protein, and can grow only in special cells engineered to contain the protein, the university said.

In this pending phase 1 study involving 30 participants, 15 people will get a low dose of the vaccine and 15 people will get a high dose, said Kawaoka, who also works at the University of Tokyo, located in Japan.

If the vaccine is found to be safe and effective, a larger study will be conducted in Africa, where Ebola outbreaks have occurred in recent years, including a current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

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The Ebola Zaire virus is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. People can get Ebola through direct contact with an infected animal or a sick or dead person infected with the virus.

To date, it has claimed more than 2,126 lives in DRC, with additional fatalities continuing to be reported.

There are 2 experimental Ebola vaccine candidates being tested in the DRC and Uganda.

Merck’s V920 (rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP) a recombinant, replication-competent Ebola vaccine and Jannsen’s Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN a heterologous prime-boost Ebola vaccine regimen is currently being tested on local populations in Africa.

And, the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority said it will provide funding and expertise to Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to manufacture the Ebola therapeutic, mAb114.  

Ebola vaccine news is published by Precision Vaccinations