Canada’s government will donate doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to the World Health Organization amid a global race to combat the virus that has killed more than a 1,000 people in West Africa.
The experimental vaccine called VSV-EBOV was developed by the National Microbiology Laboratory, the government said in a statement today. It will offer up between 800 to 1,000 doses to the WHO while keeping a small supply in case it’s needed in Canada.
Developers of unproven Ebola drugs yesterday received backing from a panel of medical ethicists to deploy the therapies against the worst outbreak of the disease on record. There is no cure for Ebola and about 60 percent of patients have died in the current outbreak.
The disease is normally treated by keeping patients hydrated, replacing lost blood and using antibiotics to fight off opportunistic infections. The hope is that a patient’s immune system will eventually fight off the virus’s aggressive attack.
The deadliest disease on earth
Finding doses of potential treatments poses an immediate challenge after one drugmaker, Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., said this week that it’s already exhausted its supply.
ZMapp, Mapp’s experimental antibody therapy, has been used to treat two Americans who are improving. San Diego-based Mapp and its partners are working with the U.S. government to quickly increase production, the company has said.
While VSV-EBOV hasn’t been tested on humans, it has shown promise in animal research, according to the statement. The government of Canada owns the intellectual property for the vaccine and has licensed the rights to BioProtection Systems to further develop the product for use in humans.
The U.S. National Institute of Health is also developing a vaccine, which may begin enrollment in a Phase 1 clinical trial by this fall.