$6M grant aids UH with Ebola vaccine
After years of studying one of the world’s deadliest viruses, the University of Hawaii is making headway on an Ebola vaccine.
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After years of studying one of the world’s deadliest viruses, the University of
Hawaii is making headway on an Ebola vaccine.
UH researcher Axel Lehrer won a $6.35 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to test whether the Ebola vaccine he is developing will protect against two more related viruses: the Sudan and Marburg viruses.
Scientists have found a way to make a heat-stable vaccine for Ebola, a virus that causes hemorrhagic fever. That means the vaccine would not need to be refrigerated and would able to be transported and stored in the hot climates, including Africa, which had a major outbreak starting in 2014.
“Expanding the heat-stable vaccine to work against all three of the related viruses could speed up the protection of health workers and others as soon as an outbreak occurs,” UH said in a news release.
The UH John A. Burns School of Medicine is developing the three-virus vaccine with two biomedical firms: New Jersey-based Soligenix Inc. and Hawaii Biotech Inc.
“The world needs a trivalent Ebola vaccine,” said
Elliot Parks, president and CEO of Hawaii Biotech, which contributed the proteins from the three viruses that make up the vaccine. “Since there’s three viruses in the Ebola family that can cause human disease, we need a vaccine for all three. The trouble with these viruses is they simmer and you never know when they’re going to break out, so the international medical community needs to be prepared.”
There are no approved vaccines to protect against Ebola, and clinical trials are in various phases. The virus, which can cause high fever, headache, diarrhea and vomiting, is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids from infected people or animals.
The Ebola outbreak in 2014 primarily hit three West African countries,
affecting more than
26,000 people and resulting in more than 10,000 deaths as of May 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers hope to bring the vaccine to market within five to 10 years.