Scientists identify protective role for antibodies in Ebola vaccine study

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) have found that an experimental vaccine elicits antibodies that can protect nonhuman primates from Ebola virus infection.

Ebola virus causes severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and , meaning that infection may lead to shock, bleeding and multi-organ failure. According to the World Health Organization, Ebola hemorrhagic fever has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. There is no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola virus infection.

Several research groups have developed 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 development. They plan to focus their studies on what level of antibody production is needed to establish protection from Ebola infection in humans.

More information: A Marzi et al. Antibodies are necessary for rVSV/ZEBOV-GP mediated protection against lethal Ebola virus challenge in nonhuman primates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1209591110 (2013).

Related Stories

Single vaccines to protect against both rabies and Ebola

Aug 25, 2011

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University, among other institutions, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have developed single vaccines to protest against both rabies and ...

Vaccine for Ebola virus

Mar 31, 2008

One of the world’s deadliest diseases, caused by the Ebola virus, may finally be preventable thanks to US and Canadian researchers, who have successfully tested several Ebola vaccines in primates and are now looking to ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

Oct 24, 2014

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

Oct 24, 2014

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments