Oxford University Trials Janssen's Ebola Vaccine

Oxford University doctors and scientists have begun the first safety trial of Janssen's experimental Ebola vaccine in the UK.

Oxford University (UK) has begun the first safety trial of Janssen's experimental Ebola vaccine.

The Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics, aims to have vaccinated all 72 healthy adult volunteers by the end of January.

It is reported that volunteers for the trial, aged 18–50 years, are likely to come largely from the Oxfordshire region, and will be asked to make a maximum of 12 visits to the Oxford Vaccine Group site on the city's Churchill hospital site over a period of a year.

The study involves a prime-boost vaccine regimen followed by a boost intended to further enhance the level of the body's immune response over time. The vaccine regimen does not contain any replicating virus, so there is no risk of infection with Ebola.

The trial is being sponsored by Crucell Holland B.V., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

Last year, a separate Oxford University team in the Jenner Institute began a safety trial of a different Ebola vaccine developed by GSK and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Led by Professor Adrian Hill, the trial vaccinated 60 healthy volunteers and initial results are expected this month.

As well as the Janssen and GSK/NIH Ebola vaccines, Merck & Co has recently bought the rights to a third Ebola vaccine being developed by the biotech company NewLink Genetics. Other vaccines are also in development in Russia.

Dr Matthew Snape of the Oxford Vaccine Group, who leading the Janssen vaccine study team,  said: "The fact that there are at least three Ebola vaccines entering these early safety trials is good news. We are not playing first past the post here. Having multiple vaccines progressing through clinical trials increases the likelihood of vaccine manufacturers having the capacity to meet production demands should mass immunisation be required. The more vaccines and more manufacturers there are working on this, the better."