Several research groups have developed experimental vaccine approaches that protect nonhuman primates from Ebola virus and the closely related Marburg virus. These approaches include vaccines based on DNA, recombinant adenovirus, virus-like particles, and human parainfluenza virus 3. But how these vaccine candidates confer protection is an area that is still being explored: Do they activate immune cells to kill the invading virus? Or do they elicit antibodies that block infection?
In this study, scientists at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and OHSU's Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute built on earlier work with an experimental vaccine composed of an attenuated vesicular stomatitis virus carrying a gene that codes for an Ebola virus protein. They observed how cynomolgus macaques responded to a challenge of Ebola virus before and during treatment with the vaccine and in conjunction with depleted levels of immune cells. Their results showed that important immune cells—CD4+ T cells and CD8+ T cells—had a minimal role in providing protection, while antibodies induced by the vaccine appeared to be critical to protecting the animals.
The scientists say this finding will help improve future Ebola virus vaccine development. They plan to focus their studies on what level of antibody production is needed to establish protection from Ebola virus infection in humans.
NIAID conducts and supports research—at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide—to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov/.
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