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Canada begins Ebola vaccine trial


Ottawa, ON – The Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN) has launched a Phase I clinical trial for Canada’s Ebola vaccine (VSV-EBOV). The clinical trial will take place in Halifax.

Jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the trial will involve testing the experimental vaccine on a small group of people to assess its safety, determine the appropriate dosage, and identify any possible side effects. The trial will test whether lower doses of the vaccine can induce an immune response in an individual and will also generate valuable information about the use of the vaccine in older adults. The vaccine does not contain a live Ebola virus.

The VSV-EBOV vaccine is the product of more than 10 years of scientific research by Public Health Agency of Canada scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory. This trial will complement others already underway, including one at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, and one at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The Canadian trial will examine lower dosing levels as well as the effect of the vaccine on older populations.

The vaccine trial is taking place concurrently with trials in the United States in an effort to move onto further clinical trials in larger populations as quickly as possible. Trial results are expected in early 2015. Information from the trials will be shared with the international community as part of the global response to this crisis. In prior testing, the vaccine already showed promising results in animal research.

“Canada’s experimental Ebola vaccine is the result of years of research and hard work by Canadian scientists,” said Dr. Gregory Taylor, chief public health officer of Canada. “The results of this clinical trial will offer us valuable data about the safety and effectiveness of our vaccine and will hopefully provide us with the information we need to proceed with further clinical trials in the countries most affected by Ebola.”

In related news, earlier this month, the federal government announced $23.5 million funding to support further research and development of Ebola medical countermeasures – in particular, the Ebola vaccine and monoclonal antibody treatments. This funding will be used to support vaccine and treatment clinical trials in West Africa.