Scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston and the National Institutes of Health have successfully developed an inhalable vaccine that guards primates against Ebola. The findings of this breakthrough design were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The Importance Of An Aerosol Design

Previous studies conducted on primates indicated that inhalable particulates of bio-threat agents were infectious. More recent findings suggest that contact of the Ebola virus with the mucus membranes lining found in the respiratory tract causes infection. This new understanding led scientists to consider the linings of airways as important pathways for the entry of virulent particles.  

Unlike any study conducted before, the effectiveness of an aerosolized delivery route for an Ebola vaccine was tested, which could also be applicable similar to the other viral haemorrhagic fever vaccine. Lead author Michelle Meyer, UTMB Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pathology stated that an injection-free inhalable design, apart from being extremely effective, also has the advantage of not requiring medically trained personnel for its administration.

Conclusions Of The Study

Researchers administered vaccines against Ebola via the respiratory tract, in either liquid or vapour form, on primates and characterized their immune responses. Assessments were made against an unrelated injectable vaccine, such as comparisons between T-cell responses in the spleen, lungs and blood. Results showed that a single dose of the inhalable vaccine prepared by the researchers protected the primates against severe outbreaks of Ebola infections and that would eventually result in death.

“A single-dose aerosol vaccine would enable both prevention and containment of Ebola infections in a natural outbreak setting where healthcare infrastructure is lacking, or during scenarios of bioterrorism and biological warfare”, highlighted senior author and virologist Alex Bukreyev, UTMB professor.

The Future of The Aerosol Vaccine

These findings have provided the basis for advanced experimentation of the developed vaccine in an NIH Phase I clinical study. Waiting for the approval via an Investigative New Drug Application, the aerosol-based vaccine will undergo evaluation for safety, replication and immunity development in adults.