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UW Madison pioneers new Ebola whole virus vaccine

University of Wisconsin - Madison scientists debuted their research on a new Ebola vaccination in Thursday's issue of the journal Science.  

A team led by Toshihiro Kawaoka, a UW Madison expert on avian flu, detailed their research in the journal.  The group has developed a whole virus vaccine for the Ebola virus.  It differs from other Ebola vaccines in the works because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it exposes the immune system to a full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, allowing for greater protection.  This is the same vaccine technique used to successfully prevent other serious human diseases like polio, hepatitis, HPV, and influenza.

The vaccine was developed using an experimental platform first used in 2008 at UW Madison.  It allows researchers to safely work with highly contagious viruses thanks to the deletion of a key gene.  In the case of Ebola, this is VP30, which the virus uses to make a protein required to reproduce in the host's cells.

The vaccine has not been tested on humans, but has produced successful results in primates at the National Institutes of Health's Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Montana.  That trial's success is expected to prompt further tests, and possibly clinical trials in humans.

In 2014, over 10,000 people died from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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