A vaccine that protects macaques from the Ebola virus is reported this week by Gary J. Nabel and his colleagues at the National Institute for Health in Bethesda, Maryland [Nature, Vol. 408, No. 6812, 30 Nov 2000].
The Ebola virus causes severe fever and internal bleeding, which often leads to death within days. It first emerged simultaneously in Zaire and in Sudan in 1976, and has since recurred in different parts of Africa, most recently in Uganda, where it has to date killed more than 150 people.
The rapid progression of this deadly ‘filovirus’ infection allows no time for an efficient immune reaction and there is no anti-viral cure available as yet. Hence, the development of a preventive vaccine for humans, like Nabel and colleagues’ primate vaccine, is crucial.
"We may yet encounter more dangerous versions of the existing filoviruses, or even new ones. To be prepared, by learning how to control those viruses that are here now, is only prudent," say Dennis R Burton and Paul WHI Parren of The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California in an accompanying News and Views article.
Gary J. Nabel
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Dennis R Burton
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