This Needle-Free Ebola Vaccine Could Change Everything

Scientists have announced the creation of an aerosolized vaccine capable of fully protecting rhesus macaques, a species of monkey commonly used in Ebola research, against the most deadly strain of Ebola virus.

If the finding is confirmed in human trials, the vaccine could be a major boon to rural areas because you don’t have to be a healthcare professional to administer the dose, said lead author Michelle Meyer, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

“A needle-free, inhalable vaccine against Ebola presents certain advantages,” said Meyer in a statement about the research. “Immunization will not require trained medical personnel.”

Virologist Alex Bukreyev and senior author of the paper added that an aerosolized vaccine would be useful in countries with no healthcare infrastructure, or in chaotic contexts like communities under siege of war.

To create the vaccine, scientists used a parainfluenza virus to carry Ebola’s genetic material. Once the vaccine entered the macaques’ bodies, it triggered a strong immune response, as measured in the level of antibodies in blood serum and the count of certain immune cells in the blood and lungs.

To see whether the vaccine worked, scientists then exposed the macaques to live Ebola virus to see if they would become infected. None of them became severely ill, and they all survived. In humans, the average fatality rate for Ebola is about 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization, while the mortality rate for rhesus macaques used in Ebola research is greater than 95 percent.

The findings about this aerosolized vaccine, created by researchers at UTMB, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute For Infectious Diseases, were published Monday in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. —> Read More