Human cytomegalovirus, better known as human herpesvirus 5, is a nasty, nasty customer. It’s a variant of herpes that infects the salivary glands, and it’s related to mononucleosis. In some cases, infection can be fatal if your immune system is compromised. But of your options, it’s way better than Ebola, which is a good thing because it’s the base for a new and powerfully effective Ebola vaccine.
The method is simple; the virus produces a protein associated with Ebola, and it triggers the body’s immune response to that protein. Your body is protected from Ebola, so if an Ebola patient exposes you to their bodily fluids, hopefully by sneezing, you’ll theoretically be good to go. The most interesting aspect of this vaccine is that in primate tests, it’s generating antibodies instead of T-cells, which is rare for vaccines using this kind of engineering.
Why the primate testing? Unfortunately, it’s not just humans who can get Ebola. While a human vaccine is a goal, here, if scientists can immunize animals against the virus, it’ll both help prevent the spread to humans and preserve fragile ecosystems.
There are Ebola vaccines that are currently being testing on humans, of course, and human trials might find this vaccine isn’t as effective. But the more vaccines we have for a disease like Ebola, which has a 90% mortality rate, the better. Ideally, with enough time and research, scientists will find a vaccine that doesn’t just prevent Ebola for a few months, but one that gives everyone a lifetime immunity to it.
(via Science Daily)