(RxWiki News) As new cases of Ebola in Liberia begin to wane, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has dispatched its first shipment of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an effort to put a stop to the spread of the virus.
The vaccine is expected to arrive in Liberia late Friday, reports Reuters. GSK officials said in a press statement that they hope to enroll 30,000 Liberians in a trial of the vaccine, which has appeared safe and effective in early trials.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, GSK chairman of Global Vaccines, said early data on the vaccine "are encouraging and give us confidence to progress to the next phases of clinical testing which will involve the vaccination of thousands of volunteers, including frontline healthcare workers. If the candidate vaccine is able to protect these people, as we hope it will, it could significantly contribute to efforts to bring this epidemic under control and prevent future outbreaks."
The Ebola epidemic Dr. Slaoui referred to is the worst in history, having infected nearly 22,000 people in nine countries, primarily in West Africa, Reuters reports.
The Ebola virus can cause Ebola virus disease. This disease is marked by symptoms like high fever, nausea, vomiting and unexplained bleeding. The virus can only be transferred through the infected blood or other bodily fluids of patients. And those patients are not contagious unless they are showing symptoms.
The vaccine uses a type of deadened chimpanzee cold virus to deliver genetic material from the Ebola virus to patients. These patients should then produce an immune response to the genetic material, making them immune to Ebola, according to GSK.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Okairos, a GSK subsidiary, developed the current vaccine. GSK officials said they hoped to conduct further trials of the vaccine in Guinea and Sierra Leone — two other West African nations hard-hit by the Ebola outbreak — if the trial in Liberia goes well.