Inhaled Ebola vaccine may provide higher protection rate

Ebola vaccine researcher Maria Croyle--Courtesy of University of Texas at Austin/Marsha Miller

A breathable, respiratory vaccine to guard against Ebola is the latest contender to join the race toward a treatment or vaccine to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

Developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, a single dose of the vaccine showed long-term protection in monkeys.

The breathable formulation improved survival of immunized monkeys from 67% to 100% that were challenged with a highly lethal amount of Ebola Zaire virus 150 days following immunization. Only about 50% of the primates given the vaccine by the standard route--intramuscular injection--survived the same challenge.

Easy to take and often preferable to an injection, an inhaled vaccine could also be more cost-effective than a needle vaccine and would avoid syringe distribution and safety issues associated with the latter type, according to researchers.

"The main advantage of our vaccine platform over the others in clinical testing is the long-lasting protection after a single inhaled dose," said professor Maria Croyle. "This is important since the longevity of other vaccines for Ebola that are currently being evaluated is not fully evaluated.

The preclinical results were published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics and presented Nov. 5 at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego.

The University of Texas at Austin team is also developing the vaccine as a thin film that would be administered under-the-tongue and plans to test that formulation in monkeys soon.

Croyle and her team are planning to take the inhaled vaccine into Phase I clinical trials, which could be expedited in the face of the continuing outbreak in West Africa. This is the first investigational respiratory vaccine to come forward, with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), NewLink Genetics ($NLNK), Novavax ($NVAX) and Profectus Biosciences are all working on traditional jabs.

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