A new vaccine providing long-lasting protective immunity against the Ebola virus has potential for development as a wider vaccine strategy to prevent spread of ebolavirus infections. A new study shows the durability of this novel Ebola virus vaccine and its potential to reduce ebolavirus infection in wild African ape species. Apes are one of the reservoirs for ebolavirus so controlling it in that population could be key to bringing it under control in humans too – and it may even be suitable for development into a direct human vaccine.
But how do you vaccinate wild apes? Finding them is hard enough so traditional vaccination campaigns are a non-starter. This new technique uses some very neat biology to ‘piggy back’ the vaccine onto cytomegalovirus (CMV) – a very contagious herpes-type virus. So, the hope is this disseminates via the infectivity of CMV (it spreads among populations really easily) but gives immunity to ebolavirus – which kills apes as well as humans. So this advance may offer hope for both stabilizing endangered ape populations and protecting humans against the devastating effects of Ebola; CMV rarely causes symptoms in humans so this advance may have implications for a potential human vaccine too.
Apart from being very immunogenic (able to provoke an immune response) and species-specific, CMV can also spread easily from individual to individual, a process which remains remarkably unaffected by prior CMV immunity. The study showed that immunity induced by CMV is extremely long-lasting and long-lasting immunity will be critical for the eventual success of this disseminating vaccine approach.
Want more info? We wrote the guide for the UK ambulance sector on ebola – and we’ve got a very cool info poster too. Contact us and we’ll happily send you a copy!