Sudan Virus Vaccine Protects Monkeys in Preclinical Trial
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A National Institutes of Health research group with extensive experience studying ebolavirus countermeasures has successfully developed a vaccine against Sudan virus (SUDV) based on the licensed Ebola virus (EBOV) vaccine. SUDV, identified in 1976, is one of the four viruses known to cause human Ebolavirus disease. The new vaccine, VSV-SUDV, completely protected cynomolgus macaques against a lethal SUDV challenge. The findings were published in the journal The Lancet Microbe.
SUDV is distinct from and less common than EBOV, but similarly deadly. A recent four-month SUDV outbreak in Uganda that ended on Jan. 11, 2023, caused 142 confirmed cases and 55 deaths. No treatment or vaccine for SUDV disease is licensed, although candidates are in clinical and preclinical trials. One of these candidates is VSV-SUDV, developed and tested by scientists at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton, Montana.
The live attenuated vector vaccine uses genetically engineered vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), an animal virus that primarily affects cattle, to express a SUDV protein as a single-dose vaccine. The researchers developed VSV-SUDV using techniques that led to Ervebo, the VSV-EBOV vaccine that the European Medicines Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in 2019 as the first vaccine for the prevention of Ebola virus disease. In the current studies, the investigators replaced the key EBOV protein in Ervebo with the comparable protein from SUDV.
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The fact that four control animals got sick demonstrates that pre-existing immunity to EBOV and VSV-EBOV has limited effect on protection from SUDV. The investigators anticipate that giving people VSV-SUDV in a dosage similar to that of VSV-EBOV (Ervebo) would provide rapid protective immunity to SUDV.
Reference: Marzi A, Fletcher P, Feldmann F, Saturday G, Hanley PW, Feldmann H. Species-specific immunogenicity and protective efficacy of a vesicular stomatitis virus-based Sudan virus vaccine: a challenge study in macaques. Lancet Microbe. 2023. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(23)00001-0
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