Ebola Vaccine To Be Tested in Maryland

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The current Ebola outbreak exposed some glaring gaps in the current pharmacological map: Only a handful of drug companies had made any progress at all on developing an Ebola treatment. Only one of those had gotten far enough along in developing an Ebola treatment to provide it to affected patients. Even then, they had a frighteningly small amount of a drug that had never been tested on humans before.

In an attempt to deal with the current outbreak as well as have options in place for future epidemics, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda is rushing to start an early-stage human trial on an experimental Ebola vaccine. Approximately 20 adults will participate, and the officials hope to have initial data by December. The World Health Organization has deemed it acceptable to use experimental drugs, due to the severity of the current outbreak.

“The data [on the vaccine] in nonhuman primates is really quite impressive. But in science, you never know, and that’s why we do the trials,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to the Washington Post.

As is standard, the vaccine will cary a minute amount of the virus it’s intended to combat. The idea is that the small sample of a virus’s genetic material will prompt the human immune system to activate, without actually giving the patient the disease in question. (According to Fauci, it would be impossible for the experimental vaccine to actually give someone Ebola.)

Let’s hope they do a better job with this Ebola thing than they did with smallpox.

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