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Report: Nasal Spray Vaccine May Offer Long-Lasting Protection From Ebola Virus

Pioneering research presented at AAPS meeting

A nasal vaccine in development by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin has been shown to provide long-term protection for non-human primates against the deadly Ebola virus. Results from a small pre-clinical study represent the only proof to date that a single dose of a non-injectable vaccine platform for Ebola is long-lasting, which could have significant global implications for controlling future outbreaks.

The new research will be presented November 5 at the 2014 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) annual meeting and exposition in San Diego, California.

The Ebola virus is an often-fatal illness that is spread among the human population via direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected individual. The current Ebola outbreak in Western Africa is the largest and most complex epidemic since the virus was first discovered in 1976, according to the World Health Organization. With a fatality rate currently as high as 70%, officials are declaring the current outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

Maria Croyle, PhD, a professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin, and her colleagues developed a nasal formulation that improved survival in immunized non-human primates from 67% (2 out of 3) to 100% (3 out of 3) after challenge with 1,000 plaque-forming units of the Zaire species of Ebola virus 150 days after immunization. This is important since only 50% of the primates given the vaccine by the standard route (intramuscular injection) survived challenge.

“Ebola causes devastating outbreaks, with fatality rates of 25 to 90 percent in Africa and Asia,” said co-investigator Kristina Jonsson-Schmunk, a graduate student in pharmacy. “Although progress has been made in understanding the virus’ biology, no licensed vaccines or treatments currently exist. There is a desperate need for a vaccine that not only prevents the continued transmission from person to person, but also aids in controlling future incidences. The main advantage of our vaccine platform over the others in clinical testing is the long-lasting protection after a single intranasal dose. This is important since the longevity of other vaccines for Ebola that are currently being evaluated is not fully understood. Moreover, the nasal-spray immunization method is more attractive than a needle vaccine given the costs associated with syringe distribution and safety.”

The next stage of research will be a phase I clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of the vaccine in human subjects. The researchers will also further explore preliminary data that they have collected for the administration of the vaccine as a sublingual film in non-human primates.

Their work was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Source: AAPS; November 3, 2014.

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