The year of 2014 will unfortunately go down in history as the year of the Ebola virus. America witnessed its first Ebola casualty on homeland soil, and the virus wreaked havoc in West Africa. Certain parts of West Africa have been all but devastated by the Ebola epidemic, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this situation to be an international health emergency. Ebola poses a clear and present threat to the future of humanity. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the WHO have been searching for effective treatments against the virus. Current medical treatments have not shown a high rate of efficacy, leaving researchers seeking an effective alternative.
Scientists and health officials are desperately searching for a vaccine that could effectively inoculate people against Ebola. One such trial vaccination that holds quite a bit of potential for success is the Chimpanzee Adenovirus Ebola Vaccine(Cad3-EBO). This vaccine has passed phase I clinical trials with reassuring results, having presented no discernible safety risks.
Cad3-EBO is acquired from a chimpanzee adenovirus. Adenoviruses specifically target DNA in the adenoid tissue, which is a mass of lymphatic tissue associated with the respiratory system. In the vaccine however, the adenovirus functions as a discharger, forcing the Ebola virus to eject glycoproteins. Once these proteins are released into the body, it is theorized that the immune system is provoked to respond by forming antibodies against the Ebola virus.
Clearly, there has never been a stronger need for an effective Ebola vaccine. Ebola is an aggressive virus, more easily spread than previously thought. The scientific community is no longer certain of the fact that asymptomatic carriers cannot transmit the virus to others. When symptoms first begin to manifest, they are very similar to the signs of influenza. This can lead to misdiagnosis, leaving the patient at a higher risk of death as well as endangering the community. It has
been revealed that the Ebola virus can be spread from touching infected surfaces.
The Ebola virus has a very high fatality rate, varying anywhere from 25%-90%. The prognosis is improved with swift diagnosis and medical attention. However, as of now there are no approved pharmaceutical treatments. This leaves healthcare providers in a position of having to make their best guess when determining an appropriate course of treatment. Until a methodology arrives that can reduce the fatality rate, prevention through immunization remains the best available option for halting the pandemic.
CAd3-EBO recently completed phase I trials successfully. During this trial, the vaccine was administered in escalating doses to ascertain efficacy and safety at varying concentrations. Although no safety concerns were identified, transient fevers were developed in some of the test subjects who received a higher dosage of active particles. Most importantly, the vaccine did demonstrate evidence of inducing immunity to the Ebola virus.
The next step in the process of developing a successful vaccine are the phase II clinical trials. Now that the initial trials have been completed, safety and evidence of an immunologic response have been established. Phase II serves to determine as to whether or not this immune response is protective. Additionally, cAd3-EBO will be compared to results of other Ebola virus vaccines that are in development. This allows experts to determine the most effective formula.