Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Kunjin Virus Effective as Ebola Vaccine

An experimental Ebola vaccine made using an Australian virus called Kunjin has provided significant protection from Ebola infection in monkeys.

“We immunised four African green monkeys with a vaccine made from the Kunjin virus engineered to produce an Ebola virus protein,” said lead researcher Prof Alexander Khromykh of The University of Queensland. “Three out of the four of the animals that were immunised were completely protected against the Ebola virus challenge.”

Khromykh said that further tests in a larger number of monkeys would be conducted before proceeding to phase 1 clinical trials in human volunteers.

Prof Andreas Suhrbier of the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute said that only a few Ebola vaccine candidates had worked in non-human primates. “Our results are therefore an impressive achievement in the global battle against this deadly virus,” he said.

The Ebola virus is responsible for a severe form of viral haemorrhagic fever in humans, with fatality rates up to 90%. The largest ever outbreak began in 2014 in West Africa, reaching about 21,700 cases and 8600 deaths to date.

Khromykh first developed a vaccine vector from Kunjin virus in 1997, and since then has developed several other vaccine candidates.

The results for the new Ebola vaccine candidate have been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.