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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
New Weapon Against Ebola
29 November 2000 7:00 pm
Scientists have come closer to developing a vaccine to one of the deadliest diseases known. In the 20 November issue of Nature, they report that a new DNA vaccine can protect macaques from developing Ebola hemorrhagic fever, the highly contagious and lethal disease that occasionally terrorizes sub-Saharan Africa.
Ebola causes devastating symptoms such as shock and internal bleeding. The virus can kill up to 90% of its victims, often within 10 days of infection. Currently, there's an epidemic in Uganda, which has so far sickened at least 337 people and killed 121. There are no drugs for Ebola, and most scientists think a vaccine would be the best way to protect populations at risk. But so far, efforts to develop such a vaccine have failed.
Now, a team of researchers from the National Institutes of Health's Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has developed a DNA vaccine. This kind of vaccine consists of a piece of viral DNA--in this case, a stretch encoding the virus's envelope--that is injected into muscle. The hope is that the gene will be expressed as a harmless protein and will teach the immune system how to defeat the real virus.
The team vaccinated four macaque monkeys; each first received three shots with the gene in the form of a piece of "naked DNA," and several months later, a booster made of an adenovirus expressing the same gene. The vaccinated monkeys developed antibodies and immune cells against the virus; what's more, they survived an injection with the Ebola virus and were healthy many months later. Four unvaccinated monkeys that served as a control group were dead or dying within a week after the injection.
Other scientists say the results look promising, but some point out that the vaccine may have worked because the team challenged their monkeys with a relatively low dose of Ebola. "I am cautiously optimistic that [this vaccine] is a significant step forward," says virologist Alan Schmaljohn of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infections Diseases in Frederick, Maryland. "I will be more comfortable once it is repeated with a higher challenge dose."