"This is the first study to show comparable safety and immune response of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an African population," said lead author Julie Ledgerwood from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, US. This is particularly encouraging because those at greatest risk of Ebola live primarily in Africa and diminished vaccine protection in African populations has been seen for other diseases, he added. Scientists developed the DNA vaccines that code for Ebola virus proteins from the Zaire and Sudan strains and the Marburg virus protein.

In this phase one trial, the Makerere University Walter Reed Programme enrolled 108 healthy adults aged between 18 and 50 from Kampala, Uganda. Each volunteer was randomly assigned to receive an intramuscular injection of either the Ebola vaccine, Marburg vaccine, both vaccines or placebo.

The vaccines given separately and together were safe and stimulated an immune response in the form of neutralising antibodies and T-cells against the virus proteins."These findings have already formed the basis of a more potent vaccine, delivered using a harmless chimpanzee cold virus, which is undergoing trials in the US, UK, Mali and Uganda in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak," Ledgerwood said.

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