Geneva University Hospital (HUG) received approval from Swissmedic on Thursday to begin trials of a new type of Ebola vaccine received in October from the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory. The trials will commence on November 10.
After approval from the ethics committees of the Canton of Geneva and the World Health Organisation (WHO), HUG was given the green light from the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) to begin clinical trials.
The experimental vaccine is produced using the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) that is not considered dangerous for humans. In trials on monkeys, it was found to be 100% effective against lethal doses of the Ebola virus.
The HUG phase I trials will compare the immune response and side effects caused by two different doses of the vaccine, as well as how they fare against a placebo. A total of 115 volunteers will be used to test the vaccine, including medical staff that will be deployed to West Africa. The trials will last 24 weeks and involve a total of nine hospital visits. Volunteers will be paid CHF810 ($834) for their participation.
Besides HUG, the vaccine will also be tested in Germany, Kenya and Gabon but on fewer volunteers.
So far, only two vaccines are considered safe enough to test on humans. Besides the HUG trial vaccine (VSV-ZEBOV), the other is the chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine (chAd3) that is currently being tested at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland, as well as in Mali, Gambia and the US.
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