Human Trial to Start for Ebola Vaccine

Health officials in the U.S. say that the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration have been prompted to speed up the development of a possible cure, given that the outbreak is ravaging West Africa and has resulted in thousands of infections. 

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A colorized transmission electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via Getty Images

The first trial on human beings for an untested Ebola virus vaccination will begin next week, U.S. health officials have announced, according to USA Today.

According to the report, 20 healthy participants will take part in the trial, which will take place at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Researchers are expecting results by the end of 2014, the news site notes.

A vaccination for the deadly virus has long been in development, but the recent devastating outbreak in West Africa has forced the hands of the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration, accelerating the process, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said, according to USA Today.

The early tests will focus on figuring out if the vaccine is safe and whether it triggers the immune system to respond to the deadly virus, USA Today notes. The testing will not cause any of the subjects to contract the virus, and according to the news site, scientists will give the vaccine only to three volunteers at a time, stopping periodically to ensure safety, before testing other individuals.

The current outbreak, spreading across Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria, has infected approximately 3,000 individuals, resulting in about 1,500 deaths. According to USA Today, the World Health Organization has predicted that it could take at least six months to contain the outbreak in the aforementioned countries and that in the meantime, there could be 20,000 cases.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infection Disease, has announced that GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational health care giant, has gotten involved in the effort to develop the vaccine. GSK is expected to make it easier to produce large amounts of the vaccine if it ends up being fruitful, Fauci pointed out, according to USA Today. 

Read more at USA Today.