Japanese scientists will start the country’s first human trial for a new vaccine against the lethal Ebola virus this month, they said Friday.
The vaccine, which has previously been tested in monkeys, makes use of an inactivated type of the virus that may only effectively replicate in artificial cells. Scientists hope that may make it safer than different treatments, the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo stated in a press release.
“We think there’s high hope for a new, safe vaccine which might be produced effectively,” Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a professor of infectious diseases on the university who helped develop the vaccine, stated in the release.
The university will start the clinical study later in December, injecting 30 healthy adult men with two doses of the vaccine, four weeks aside. They are going to be monitored for side effects and whether or not they have developed immunity to Ebola.
The Ebola virus can be passed on by contact with the secretions, blood, body fluids, or by organs of an infected or recently deceased person. The death rate is usually high, ranging up to 90 % in some outbreaks, based on the WHO.
A number of Ebola vaccines exist, including rVSV-ZEBOV and a new formulation produced by a Belgian subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that went into use last month within the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The country is within the grip of an Ebola epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 individuals in 15 months. It’s the second deadliest to date after a 2014-2016 outbreak, which left some 11,000 people dead and underscored the urgency to bring a vaccine to market.