An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus. The vaccine, described online on March 26, 2015 in an article in Science, was developed by a group led by Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison expert on avian influenza, Ebola, and other viruses of medical importance. The vaccine differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection. "In terms of efficacy, this affords excellent protection," explains Dr. Kawaoka, a Professor of Pathobiological Sciences in the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and who also holds a faculty appointment at the University of Tokyo. "It is also a very safe vaccine." The vaccine was constructed on an experimental platform first devised in 2008 by Dr. Peter Halfmann, a research scientist in Dr. Kawaoka's lab. The system allows researchers to safely work with the virus thanks to the deletion of a key gene known as VP30, which the Ebola virus uses to make a protein required for it to reproduce in host cells. Ebola virus has only eight genes and, like most viruses, depends on the molecular machinery of host cells to grow and become infectious.
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