Drugs

J&J Ebola vaccine shows promise in first human study

Amy Schofield 21 April 2016

The first human study into J&J's experimental Ebola vaccine has found 100% immune response eight months later.

Administration of the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, called AdVac, boosted by a second immunisation shot from biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic A/S, generated a powerful immune response among volunteers in its first tests in humans.

This study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 100% of people getting the one-two combination were still producing antibodies against the virus eight months later. 

The novel approach may provide durable protection against the Ebola virus which swept across parts of West Africa in 2014, killing over 11,000 people and infecting almost 29,000.

The study of the vaccine’s real-world effectiveness is a challenge because Ebola isn’t currently circulating in large numbers. The World Health Organization declared an end to the public health emergency last month.

The companies are instead working to confirm the vaccine's safety and further test the immune system’s response in preparation for the possibility of another outbreak or emergency. 

Johnson & Johnson's Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said: “If there is a large epidemic, we should be able to use it to study the efficacy. Hopefully we will never need it, but if it is a problem, we’ll be ready to step in.”

With this new approach, the first shot is used to prime the immune system and the second boosts the response, perhaps creating a longer benefit.

The research was funded in part by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and grants from a European consortium that includes the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

 

Image: flickr.com

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