Canada’s Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, announced Monday the the launch of Phase 1 clinical trials for Canada’s Ebola vaccine (VSV-EBOV) at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

Ebola virus Image/CDC
Ebola virus

The Phase 1 clinical trial will test the vaccine on a small group of people to assess its safety, determine the appropriate dosage and identify any side effects. Canada has supplied 20 vials of the experimental vaccine for use in the trial.

Scientists at the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) developed the vaccine, which has shown great promise in animal research. This vaccine could be an important tool in helping to control the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Canadian government owns the intellectual property associated with this vaccine and has licensed the rights to NewLink Genetics through its wholly owned subsidiary BioProtection Systems. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency is working with BioProtection Systems to further develop the product for use in humans.

This testing will assess whether the vaccine is safe for use in people and determine the appropriate dose necessary to provide immunity. Outcomes of this Phase 1 trial are expected in December 2014.

Minister Ambrose said, “The Government of Canada is committed to supporting efforts to control the Ebola outbreak and hopes that advancing research on this experimental vaccine will be able to help address this global crisis. These clinical trials are an important step in addressing some of the ethical considerations around providing an experimental vaccine to assist in controlling the outbreak.”

“Canada has long been a leader in Ebola research and innovation, and this vaccine is the product of years of hard work. It is our sincere hope that when these trials are complete, the vaccine can be used to help save lives and put an end to this devastating outbreak”, Dr. Gregory Taylor, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada noted.