J&J Ebola Vaccine Has Promise as Wider Test Awaits Next Outbreak

Thursday, April 21, 2016

An experimental Ebola vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, boosted by a second immunization shot from biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic A/S, generated a powerful immune response among volunteers in its first tests in humans.

The novel approach may provide durable protection against the deadly virus that swept across the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in 2014, sickening almost 29,000 people and killing more than 11,000. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 100 percent of people getting the one-two combination were still producing antibodies against the virus eight months later, a promising result for researchers looking for a vaccine against the infection that’s still generating clusters of disease. The World Health Organization declared an end to the public health emergency last month.

The companies have rushed to produce about 2 million doses, according to J&J. They face a challenge, however, in trying to study the vaccine’s real-world effectiveness since Ebola isn’t currently circulating in large numbers. They are instead working to confirm its safety and further test the immune system’s response in preparation for another outbreak or emergency, should one appear, said Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer.

 “If there is a large epidemic, we should be able to use it to study the efficacy,” Stoffels said. “Hopefully we will never need it, but if it is a problem, we’ll be ready to step in.”

Source: Bloomberg (link opens in a new window)

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