Ebola accident spurs new interest in vax projects

A researcher who accidentally pricked herself with a needle used to infect animals with the deadly ebola virus has now become the focus of an impromptu human trial of an experimental vaccine.

The accident occurred March 12 at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg. Researchers swiftly dispatched a Canadian-made vaccine devised from a live vesicular stomatitus virus engineered to carry an ebola protein. And the researcher has developed no symptoms of the lethal disease, which essentially dissolves organs in the body.

With one human experiment under its belt, scientists want to see if a vaccine company would like to refine the vaccine and try it on others. "Ebola researchers could volunteer for the safety tests", offers Stephan Günther, head of virology at the BNI.

Canadian scientist Dr. Heinz Feldmann, who made the vaccine, tells the Canadian Press that he's hopeful all the attention roused by the incident will help gin new interest in the field, which has been hampered by a lack of funding.

"There is a lot of interest at the moment and some people find it positive that...the vaccine was offered and actually given to her," says Dr. Feldmann. "The question remains the money."

- read the article in the New Scientist
- see the story in the Canadian Press

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