Vaccines protect monkeys from Ebola, Marburg: study

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CBC Manitoba – Vaccines protect monkeys from Ebola, Marburg: study

Vaccines protect monkeys from Ebola, Marburg: study
Last Updated Jun 6 2005 09:40 AM CDT
CBC News

WINNIPEG – Researchers in Winnipeg and the U.S. are reporting a breakthrough in fighting the diseases caused by the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses.

Researchers at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg collaborated with the U.S. military to develop two vaccines that protected monkeys from the viruses, according to a study published in this month’s edition of the journal Nature Medicine.

While it’s a promising discovery, a human vaccine could still be at least five years away, said Steven Jones, one of the Canadian scientists involved in the study.

The world’s largest known outbreak of Marburg virus is blamed for killing 335 people in Angola since last fall. For humans, there is no vaccine or treatment for either disease, which cause hemorrhagic fevers that can be fatal within a week.

The new vaccines were 100 per cent effective in protecting 12 macaque monkeys against infection from the two viruses, Jones said.

Dr. Jay Keystone, an infectious disease expert in Toronto, welcomes the research – but he says there are still many questions.

“If these viruses are ever weaponized that would be a major problem, and that’s where the vaccine may be required in a greater context and large numbers of individuals immunized.”

Jones says he’s not worried about getting the human vaccines manufactured once they’re developed. He says there is a commercial market for them because of their potential as a defence against bio-terrorism.

Copyright © CBC 2005

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