Monkeys given an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by GSK were resistant to the deadly virus when infected with it five weeks later, trials have shown.
The results of a drug trial, published in the journal Nature, show all of the monkeys not given the vaccine died within 6 days of infection, whereas the four given the vaccine survived and were symptom-free. This indicates the potential the vaccine has to provide full protection against the disease.
The epidemic currently making its way across West Africa began in Guinea in February. It has since killed over 2,000 people, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, and a number of companies are trying to develop treatments or preventative measures to keep it under control.
GSK's vaccine uses a single protein from the Ebola virus to set off an immune response. It is considered to be safe because it does not contain any infectious viral material, and so cannot cause a person who is vaccinated to become infected with Ebola.
Of the three or four vaccines under development, it is the furthest along in trials, according to the US National Institutes of Health. The next stage will involve testing it on humans to determine how safe it is and whether it spurs the same immune response as in the monkeys.
Share price down
The positive news was not reflected in GSK's share price this morning – it reached 1,431 pence at its lowest point, down 1.14 per cent from yesterday.
Overall, however, the development of the vaccine has had a positive impact on the pharmaceutical company’s shares since details were first announced at the beginning of August. After plans for the first clinical trials were revealed on 11 August, shares stayed the same or increased on the three following days.
Similarly, shares went up from 1,463 pence to 1,474.5 pence following news on 28 August that the vaccine was being fast tracked for human trials in the UK.