Low-cost, scalable Ebola treatment

A vaccine that also works as a post-exposure Ebola treatment can be ready in 2015

The goal of this project is to rapidly develop an Ebola therapeutic vaccine that can be effective as a treatment.

Today, there is no accessible treatment against Ebola infection. The few treatments that exist today are not available due to scarcity, heavy costs and delay of production. The vaccine developed in this project is intended to help exposed and infected persons and medical staff working with Ebola patients.

The proposed vaccine is effective at a very low dose and low cost. A small scale production of one liter vaccine stock has the potential to treat 5000 patients.

This Ebola vaccine can be used both before and possibly after onset of disease. Other Ebola vaccines that are being tested today show promising effects on protecting primates from Ebola, but do not offer a treatment to those already infected by the disease.

The technology applied in this vaccine project has a ground-breaking ability to induce an immune response in those who are already infected with the Ebola virus.

How does the treatment vaccine work?

The processes in the body of a patient with Ebola can be seen as a race between the virus spreading and the capacity of the patient’s immune system to produce cytotoxic cells that eliminate the infected cells. The cellular components of the immune system protecting against Ebola has already been demonstrated in non-human primates.

Given the time it takes from exposure to Ebola to the outbreak of symptoms, this vaccine provides the means to strongly accelerate the host’s immune defenses and thus increase the number of patients surviving the infection.

The technology used is based on a novel vaccine technology called lentiviral vectors (LVs). LV-based vaccines induce a protective cellular response within a few days and after only one single injection. LVs have been proved to induce unprecedented strong and effective cellular immune responses in other vaccine developments by Institut Pasteur, such as HIV and Malaria.

The vaccine design and optimization can be ready within five to six months, including toxicology studies and proof-of-concept in primate animal models. We aim to initiate field trials by mid-year 2015.

Dr. Pierre Charneau,
Head of the Unit of Molecular Virology and Vaccinology

Dr. Patrick England,
Head of Biophysics of Macromolecules and their Interactions Platform