Ebola vaccine performs well in U.K. human trial

Ebola trial participant getting vaccinated

An experimental vaccine against Ebola is relatively safe in humans, a U.K.-based study of 60 people finds. A trial of another vaccine (shown being administered above) produced similar results in 20 patients in a National Institutes of Health study in September.


An Ebola vaccine candidate developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the National Institutes of Health effectively jump-starts the immune system with few side effects, researchers report January 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The vaccine is based on a chimpanzee cold virus, called adenovirus 3 (ChAd3), that’s been engineered to produce a viral protein specific to the Zaire Ebolavirus strain from the ongoing outbreak in West Africa. Ideally, it would trick the human immune system into making antibodies to fight this particular strain. A second vaccine against both the Zaire and Sudan strains is also being tested in people.

In the new phase 1 clinical study, researchers inoculated 60 healthy U.K. adults with three different dose levels of the experimental vaccine. Over four weeks, they detected antibodies for the virus in each dosage group, and only two subjects developed fevers. The vaccine is one of several that have been fast-tracked into clinical trials.  

Read all of SN‘s Ebola coverage.

Helen Thompson is the multimedia editor. She has undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Trinity University and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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