News / Health

    New Ebola Vaccine Proves Effective in Mice

    Can be stockpiled for long-term storage

    This colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals some of the form and structure of an Ebola virus.
    This colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals some of the form and structure of an Ebola virus.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Art Chimes

    U.S. scientists have developed a new vaccine against the deadly ebola virus which has the potential to remain potent after years of storage.  



    Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses known. It kills about nine out of every 10 people it infects. Fortunately, outbreaks have been rare. But concern about more widespread infection, and the possibility of ebola being used as a biological weapon, have spurred research of a vaccine.

    Several experimental vaccines were developed based on the ebola virus itself. But because the virus degrades over time, virus-based vaccines have to be stored at very cold temperatures, which can be expensive. And because they use the actual ebola virus, there are safety concerns as well.

    So researchers in Arizona are trying something different. Their idea is, in effect, to trick the body's immune system into mounting a defense against ebola by making a vaccine based on material that's on the surface of the virus.

    "We take the proteins that stick out and form spikes on the virus," explained University of Arizona scientist Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz.  "They're called glycoproteins. And we fuse that to an antibody backbone."

    Co-researcher Charles Arntzen of Arizona State University says the protein-antibody particles attach to each other to form an "ebola immune complex" - or, as he put it, sort of a "glob."

    "Turns out, whenever you have a complex of identical proteins like this, it's really a nice signal to our body to say, 'oh, this is unusual, it looks like a virus, what we need to do is mount an immune response against this complex,'" he says.

    To make the glycoprotein-antibody material, the scientists used an unusual manufacturing process. They started with the DNA that contains the instructions for the spiky ebola surface protein, inserted it into a bacteria, and then dipped tobacco plants into a solution with the bacteria.

    Arntzen says that reprograms the tobacco leaf cells. "And after about 10 days to 12 days, the tobacco plant starts to get looking very sick because it's diverting all of its energy into making our vaccine."

    Herbst-Kralovetz says the experimental vaccine was tested on laboratory mice, who were exposed to live ebola virus. Combined with an adjuvant - a substance often added to make vaccines work better - she says four out of five mice were protected against the virus.

    "So, 80 percent protection correlated with the best level of protection from another candidate vaccine. And so we were very happy with that."

    And her colleague, Arntzen, says the vaccine can be dried to a powder, so it should survive long-term storage.

    The next step, before beginning human trials, is testing the vaccine in non-human primates.

    The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora