Medical researchers in Philadelphia, part of the international effort to develop a vaccine for the Ebola virus, have “piggybacked” on the long available vaccine for the deadly disease rabies. An ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has killed almost two hundred people and it is feared to be spreading. The fatality rate from Ebola averages 70%, depending on the strain of the virus (the Zaire strain has a fatality rate of approximately 90%. US News and World Report reported yesterday in As African Ebola Outbreak Spreads, Hopes for Vaccine Remain Years Away, that Jefferson researchers are having marked success:
Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia are spearheading another research effort along similar lines. They have produced an Ebola vaccine that piggybacks on the established rabies virus vaccine, and the new combination has successfully immunized mice and primates in lab tests against both rabies and Ebola. “I think we’ve demonstrated it is efficient in animal models, and now we have to produce a vaccine that would be appropriate for humans,” said Matthias Schnell, director of the Jefferson Vaccine Center.