New Delhi, Aug 13 IANS | 2 months ago

Two Israeli scientists are racing to find a vaccine to tackle the deadly Ebola disease that has killed nearly 1,000 people so far.

With funding from the US National Institutes of Health and other resources, Leslie Lobel and Victoria Yavelsky are now getting ready to test its human monoclonal antibodies in mice and non-human primates abroad, a press release issues by the Israeli embassy in India said.

"We have a five-year plan and I believe we could have proof of concept with human monoclonal antibodies in monkeys in three to five years," said Lobel from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Center for Emerging Diseases, Tropical Diseases and AIDS.

If we can prove it in two animal models, we can eventually use it in humans, Lobel added.

They have been working for years to track down all survivors of the Ebola and Marburg viruses in Uganda and take blood samples from them.

Both of these Equatorial viruses cause hemorrhagic fever and kill close to 90 percent of victims.

The two scientists have studied the unusually strong immune response of the survivors and worked to isolate monoclonal antibodies that neutralise the virus in their lab.

The monoclonal antibody-based therapeutic approach was proven as a successful potential treatment by their colleagues in the US military and at several other laboratories.

When someone contracts Ebola, it usually takes eight to 12 days for symptoms of hemorrhagic disease to show up.

The antibody therapy could provide not only a cure but even prevent the hemorrhagic disease from occurring in the first place.

"We are quite advanced in terms of studying the immune response in survivors in Central Africa to develop a prophylactic and therapeutic," Lobel claimed.

He and Yavelsky hope to develop a "passive" vaccine that would provide immediate protection against the virus.

An "active" vaccine already formulated by the US military, and successfully tested in monkeys, takes about 30 days to be effective, the release added.

(Posted on 13-08-2014)

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