Using a double-barreled approach to immunization, scientists have created a combination of vaccines that fends off deadly Ebola virus in monkeys. The new inoculation uses pieces of Ebola DNA both by themselves and in an adenovirus, a virus commonly modified to carry genes.
"This is a good first step," says Paul W.H.I. Parren, an immunologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. It's the first published success in immunizing primates against Ebola, he says.
The vaccine needs more testing before it can be tried in people, says study coauthor Gary J. Nabel, director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. But once an Ebola vaccine proves safe for people, he says, health organizations might first give it to workers sent to contain outbreaks—a dangerous job. A reliable vaccine would also provide some peace of mind to researchers, who wear full-body suits when working with the virus in laboratories, Nabel says.