In a press release issued by the Southwest Foundation for Biochemical Research, a contract with Dutch pharmaceutical company Crucell has been received to test a vaccine against two of the most dangerous viruses known to man, Ebola and Marburg.
The company’s high-level biocontainment facility will be used to test the vaccine’s ability to produce an effective immune response in animal models.
The vaccine is based on placing the genetic material from these viruses onto a vector which takes the material directly to the immune system.
Both Ebola and Marburg viruses cause severe, deadly hemorrhagic fever. The disease is characterized by massive internal bleeding. Fatality rates hover in the 80% range.
People can be exposed to these viruses from direct contact with the blood and/or secretions of an infected person. Thus, the virus is often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for infected persons. People can also be exposed to the viruses through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
Outbreaks are seen sporadically in Africa. It is a potential agent of bioterrorism according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.