Mali health workers get experimental GSK vaccine in Ebola trials

Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:42am EDT
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BAMAKO Oct 10 (Reuters) - Healthcare workers in Mali have been given an experimental Ebola vaccine as part of the first human trials of the shot in West Africa, where three nations are battling the worst outbreak on record.

The trials are part of a programme to identify and roll out vaccines within months, compared with the years usually needed, in an effort to find a way to protect against a disease that has killed at least 3,865 people.

Three Malian health staff have been given the vaccine and 37 more are due to receive it in the coming weeks, according to a statement issued by the Center for Vaccine Development (CVD) at the University of Maryland, which is carrying out the trials with Malian counterparts.

The vaccine being tested is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and is being developed with the U.S.-based Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Mali borders Guinea, one of three nations worst affected by Ebola, but has not had any confirmed cases yet.

"This research will give us crucial information about whether the vaccine is safe, well tolerated and capable of stimulating adequate immune responses in the highest priority target population, healthcare workers in West Africa," Myron Levine, director of the CVD, said.

"If it works, in the foreseeable future it could help alter the dynamic of this epidemic by interrupting transmission to healthcare and other exposed front-line workers," he said.

Further similar Phase I trials on healthy volunteers are scheduled in Gambia.

The first arm of the trials programmes started in Oxford, England, in September. The Oxford study will involve 60 volunteers, while the studies in Mali and Gambia will each have 40 participants.   Continued...