Now it will be tested in 20 healthy adults to make sure it’s safe and effective in mounting an immune response.
“A vaccine will ultimately be an important tool in the prevention effort,” Fauci said in a statement today, adding that the phase 1 study is “the first step in a long process.”
The 20 subjects will be followed for 48 weeks but initial safety results are expected later this year, according to an NIH statement.
The vaccine works by delivering fragments of genetic material from two Ebola strains into a healthy person’s cells. The cells then transform that genetic material into a protein found on the virus, and that protein triggers an immune response that should fend off the infection.
“It is important to know that the Ebola genetic material contained in the investigational vaccine cannot cause a vaccinated individual to become infected with Ebola,” the NIH said in a statement.
Another experimental Ebola drug known as ZMapp has been used in six people, including American aid workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol. The drug is not a vaccine, but contains synthetic antibodies designed to mimic the body's immune response.