News / Health

    Ebola Vaccine from GSK Fast-tracked into Clinical Trials

    FILE - The logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is seen on its office building.
    FILE - The logo of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is seen on its office building.
    Reuters

    An experimental Ebola vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline is being fast-tracked into human studies and the company plans to build a stockpile of up to 10,000 doses for emergency deployment, if results are good.

    The research work is being accelerated with funding from an international consortium, reflecting mounting concern over the worst outbreak of the disease that has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa.

    GSK's candidate vaccine, being co-developed with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), is expected to be given to healthy volunteers in Britain and the United States from about mid-September, with the program then being extended to Gambia and Mali.

    Britain's biggest drugmaker said on Thursday the Phase I trials would start as soon as they received ethical and regulatory approvals.

    The NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is also working on a wider program of clinical trials, including tests of a version of the GSK vaccine that may fight a second strain of Ebola, as well as the West African one.

    In addition, U.S. researchers plan human tests of a vaccine developed by Canadian government scientists, which has been licensed to NewLink Genetics.

    The trials being announced will enroll healthy volunteers with the goal of determining whether the vaccine is safe and whether it provokes a protective immune response.

    The aim is to complete these tests by the end of 2014, after which vaccines could be deployed on an emergency basis.

    Race to test

    In a grim assessment of the deadly disease, the World Health Organization said on Thursday that the current Ebola outbreak was continuing to accelerate and could infect more than 20,000 people.

    Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust medical charity, which is helping to fund the vaccine trials, said the effectiveness of vaccines and drugs could only be assessed during epidemics, so it was vital to test products now.

    GSK plans to begin making up to about 10,000 additional doses of its vaccine at the same time as the initial clinical trials, so if they are successful vaccine could be made available immediately for an emergency immunization program.

    NewLink has also contracted for the manufacture of increased supplies of its vaccine.

    A steering committee made up of senior officials from NIH and the U.S. Department of Defense also approved last week the first step toward using three advanced laboratories to manufacture Ebola vaccines and treatments, a person familiar with the planning told Reuters.

    The three labs, in Texas, Maryland and North Carolina, were set up in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in partnership with private industry to respond to pandemics or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear threats..

    The GSK vaccine consists of a common cold virus, called an adenovirus, that has been engineered to carry two genes of the Ebola virus. Animal testing has shown that when the adenovirus infects cells the Ebola genes produce harmless proteins that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to Ebola.

    GSK acquired the vaccine after buying Swiss-based biotech company Okairos for 250 million euros ($330 million) last year.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora