Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston have discovered an inhalable vaccine that can protect rhesus macaque monkeys against severe illness and death when they were exposed to the Ebola virus.
Rhesus Macaques are among the most widespread primates after humans and are the monkeys most widely used in biomedical research.
Findings published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggest that the linings of the airways may be an important point of entry for the Ebola virus into the body.
Alexander Bukreyev, a professor of virology at the University said the study demonstrates successful aerosol vaccination against a viral hemorrhagic fever for the first time.
“A single-dose aerosol vaccine would enable both prevention and containment of Ebola infections, in a natural outbreak setting where health care infrastructure is lacking or during bioterrorism and biological warfare scenarios,” he added.
“A needle-free, inhalable vaccine against Ebola presents certain advantages. Immunization will not require trained medical personnel,” Michelle Meyer, a postdoctoral fellow in the pathology department at the UTMB further stated.
In the new study, Bukreyev and colleagues administered the inhaled vaccine to six rhesus macaque monkeys.
A month later, the team injected the monkeys with a dose of Ebola virus that was 1,000 times the level that would normally be deadly.
None of the monkeys died or developed severe cases Ebola, although a few developed mild depression.
The new vaccine is made from a mild, very common respiratory virus, called human parainfluenza virus type 3 (HPIV3), that has been engineered to include genes from the Ebola virus that encode the proteins of the virus’s outer coat.