A spray Ebola vaccine protects monkeys from the virus 100 percent of the time, and the protection lasts as long as a year, researchers reported Monday, according to NBC News.
The spray vaccine is based on a common cold virus, which is genetically engineered to carry a bit of Ebola DNA. Nine infected monkeys that were sprayed up the nose with the vaccine were all saved.
But, according to Maria Croyle of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy, what appears to be a highly promising research is failing to receive funding.
“Now we are at the crossroads, trying to figure out where to get the funding and resources to continue, ” Croyle told NBC News.
Croyle’s findings are published in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics and are expected to be discussed at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists meeting in San Diego this week.
Croyle is expecting a major drug company, or the federal government, to finance her research.
A number of Ebola vaccines have been in development for years, but only this year, following the sudden outbreak of the epidemic in West Africa infecting more than 13, 000 people, has there been a serious push to bring a vaccine to market – before the virus reaches the U.S. or Europe in more alarming numbers.
Croyle’s team has been developing their vaccine since 2007, according to NBC News.
The nasal vaccine targets cells in the nasal passages and the lungs, generating a comprehensive immune response in the body.
NBC News suggested drug companies have stayed away from the Ebola vaccine development effort because the potential market used to be too small.
Croyle said her team’s vaccine may be easier to administer than the others because it’s needle-free, and “nasal administration creates a stronger line of defense.”
If a vaccine is shown to be safe in monkeys, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a special process for approving giving it to healthy human volunteers to test its safety. These volunteers are not exposed to the virus, but doctors test their immune response to the vaccine to see if it appears capable of protecting the body from infection.