Article written

  • on 26.06.2015
  • at 03:03 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Q/A: The search for Ebola vaccine in Uganda 0

The continuing Ebola outbreak in West Africa has shown how quickly infectious diseases can have a devastating impact on public health and economy of nations.   The Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) in Kampala, Uganda is conducting a trial to determine if an Ebola vaccine candidate is safe for use. The enrolment of participants has ended and researchers are now following them up.

The intervention, known as RV 422, has two vaccines that were jointly manufactured by Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in the United States and UK-headquartered GlaxoSmithKline. One vaccine is being tested against the Ebola Zaire strain while the other vaccine is known to have activity against both Ebola Zaire and Sudan strains. The trial, which is funded by the NIAID, follows a first Ebola vaccine trial conducted by the MUWRP in Uganda from 2009 to 2012.

SciDev.Net interviewed Francis Kiweewa, head of research at the MUWRP.

Can you tell us what you’re doing?

The primary objective is to develop a vaccine candidate that can be used to prevent Ebola, especially in an outbreak setting when people don’t have enough time to prepare and develop immunity. You need a vaccine candidate that you can give quickly to health workers or responders to develop immunity against Ebola so that they can be able to help those who need help. One of the primary objectives really is to have a candidate that can be developed further for prevention of Ebola.

But when one tests vaccines we do it in phases, so there’s an early phase and there’s a later phase. What we are doing is phase I trial of a candidate vaccine to determine if the vaccine is safe for use in humans, and also if they elicit an immune response. We are not determining whether the vaccine can prevent Ebola. We are trialling about 90 healthy adults in Uganda.

The trial involves a single injection of RV 422 and participants are followed for 48 weeks. After that we think there will be a lot of data. The plan is to eventually analyse all these and report it to various audiences through publications, presentations or policy engagements or engagement with the manufacturers of the vaccine.

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by Amy Fallon

Photo credit: European Commission DG ECHO

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