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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/7/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Experimental vaccines were successful on monkeys four years ago

With increasing fears of the Ebola virus in West Africa and elsewhere, world governments are now frantically trying to contain the disease. What is not widely known is the fact that there had been work on finding a vaccine for Ebola four years ago, that was initially met with success in monkeys. Has the world's throat been cut by abandoning this research?

It must also be noted that while the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. government often fund the early animal safety and efficacy testing of a vaccine, pharmaceutical companies typically fund the human clinical trials to take a drug or vaccine to market.

It must also be noted that while the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. government often fund the early animal safety and efficacy testing of a vaccine, pharmaceutical companies typically fund the human clinical trials to take a drug or vaccine to market.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/7/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Ebola, vaccine, clinical trials, outbreak


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A team of U.S. government scientists at that time developed vaccine candidates that shielded monkeys from multiple strains of Ebola. Those vaccines were never tested in human clinical trials. This in spite of the fact that one strain had a 100 percent success rate of protecting the animals from the disease.

The factor preventing such trials in humans, according to Dr. Daniel Bausch, an associate professor of tropical medicine at the Tulane University School of Public Health, has been cost.

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Currently stationed at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 6 in Lima, Peru, Bausch says "When you have a population or situation with Ebola where it only sporadically occurs, and it occurs really in the world's poorest populations, it's not exactly an attractive candidate for the pharmaceutical industry on the economic side.

"We have good vaccine candidates, and some good drug candidates that have gone through fairly extensive testing for Ebola, and at least reduce the mortality rate in monkeys."
 
It must also be noted that while the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. government often fund the early animal safety and efficacy testing of a vaccine, pharmaceutical companies typically fund the human clinical trials to take a drug or vaccine to market.

One experimental Ebola vaccine is now being fast-tracked, according to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci. Tragically, it could be years before its safety and effectiveness in humans is firmly established.

According to Nancy Sullivan, chief of the Biodefense Research Section of NIAID's Vaccine Research Center, another challenge of coming up with a vaccine to treat a deadly virus like Ebola is that researchers can't easily - or ethically - test it on humans.

"We obviously can't expose people to the Ebola virus" in order to know whether a vaccine is effective, Sullivan said. The alternative is to vaccinate high-risk human populations as a means of testing such a drug. But that's also problematic because Ebola outbreaks are so sporadic and hard to predict - "unless we vaccinate all of Africa, which isn't feasible," she said.

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