Vaccine offers complete protection against Ebola virus

Posted: 11 October 2018 | | No comments yet

Researchers at The Wistar Institute have developed a DNA based vaccine that has offered compete protection against the Ebola virus in preclinical trials…


A novel synthetic DNA vaccine developed based on technology pioneered by scientists at The Wistar Institute Vaccine & Immunotherapy Centre offers complete protection from Zaire Ebola virus (EBOV) infection in promising preclinical research. 

Ebola virus infection causes a severe hemorrhagic fever that has a 50 percent fatality rate, according to the World Health Organization. Recent advances have led to the development of promising experimental vaccine candidates that may be associated with side effects and/or may not be applicable in specific vulnerable populations, such as children, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals. In addition, there is a need to boost these vaccines to provide long-term protection.

Using a unique approach, Wistar scientists designed optimised synthetic DNA vaccine candidates targeting a virus surface protein called glycoprotein. They demonstrated efficacy of the novel vaccine candidates and durability of the immune responses in animal models. Importantly, results showed strong immune responses one year after the last dose, supporting the long-term immunogenicity of the vaccine – a particularly challenging area for Ebola vaccines.

“Synthetic non-viral based DNA technology allows for rapid vaccine development by delivery directly into the skin, resulting in consistent, potent and rapid immunity compared to traditional vaccine approaches,” said lead researcher Dr David B. Weiner, executive vice president and director of Wistar’s Vaccine & Immunotherapy Centre, and W.W. Smith Charitable Trust Professor in Cancer Research. “An anti-Ebola virus DNA vaccine like this may provide an important new tool for protection, and we are excited to see what future studies will unveil.”

The researchers optimised a shorter, dose-sparing, immunisation regimen and simplified vaccine administration directly into the skin. This new approach induced rapid and protective immunity from virus challenges. The detected antibody levels were equal or higher to those reported for other vaccines currently being evaluated in the clinic, according to the study.

“The success of intradermal delivery of a low-dose regimen is very encouraging,” said Dr Ami Patel, associate staff scientist in the Weiner Lab. “The ultimate goal of our work is to create effective and safe vaccines that are optimised for field use in at-risk areas.”

Study results were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.