Via Imperial College in London: Imperial researcher to lead Ebola vaccine trial in the Gambia. Excerpt:
The first multi-site trial of an Ebola vaccine has been announced and Professor Beate Kampmann's team will run the Gambia arm of the trial.
Ebola is a viral illness spread by contact with bodily fluids which can cause fever, vomiting, and severe bleeding. The current outbreak in west Africa has killed more than 1,500 people and the number of people infected is growing. In a bid to stop the spread of the disease, an international team of researchers will conduct trials of a candidate vaccine on healthy volunteers in the UK, the Gambia and Mali.
The University of Oxford is leading the trial and Professor Beate Kampmann from the Department of Paediatrics, Imperial College London will run the trial in the Gambia. Professor Kampmann is an expert in infection and immunity and spends half her time at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit in the Gambia where she is in charge of research in vaccinology and has run several vaccination trials, including for prevention of pneumococcal disease, polio and meningitis.
A £2.8 million grant to carry out the trial has been awarded by the Wellcome Trust, the MRC and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The award was fast-tracked due to the increasing severity of the Ebola situation in west Africa.
Professor Kampmann discusses the details of running this important trial.
What is involved when a research project like this is fast-tracked and does this influence the trial itself?
The big advantage of fast-tracking such an important development is that the funding becomes available more readily. The application itself was done like a normal grant but the review process was speeded up so it was done in just a few days- it was a very unusual timescale.
However, no corners are being cut and the stringency of scientific and ethical review for the trial remains the same. We will go through the same ethical and scientific review procedures and there will be the same protocols for patient consent, informing the community and consultations with volunteers and their families.
How many volunteers will take part?
The trial will recruit 60 healthy volunteers from the UK, 40 healthy volunteers from the Gambia and 40 healthy volunteers from Mali. It is vital that we conduct a trial in west Africa where there could be cases in the future and where the trial can be put in the right geographical context. It will also ensure that the studies take into account differences between European and West African populations that might affect safety or the immune response.