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Multiple Vaccines in the Works Against Ebola

Trials of a new Ebola vaccine start next week. Here are some others coming down the pike.

U.S. government scientists will start testing an experimental vaccine against Ebola in people next week, starting out with 20 healthy adults. The same vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, will be tested in the coming weeks in Britain, Gambia and Mali.

It’s one of several Ebola vaccines in the pipeline. Here are some others:

Canada’s VSV-EBOV: This one’s made by Canada’s National Microbiology Lab and it’s publicly funded. It is the vaccine the Canadian government said it would donate to help fight the West African outbreak of Ebola. Iowa-based NewLink Genetics is working to help license and manufacture the vaccine. Experts say it works a little like the rabies vaccine, in that it protects both before and after exposure to the virus. It’s made using a virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV).

Profectus Biosciences: This Maryland-based company is making a vaccine that is also based on VSV. “The Profectus prototype VesiculoVax vector has demonstrated single dose protection of monkeys against lethal challenge with Ebola and Marburg viruses,” the company says in a statement.

Crucell: NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is also helping develop a vaccine made by Crucell that would protect against several strains of Ebola, as well as against Marburg, a related virus. NIAID says the first tests will start in 2015 or early 2016.

Rabies-based vaccine: NIAID and Thomas Jefferson University are working on a vaccine that uses a genetically engineered version of the rabies virus to protect against rabies and Ebola at the same time. “This research team is pursuing an inactivated version of this vaccine for human and veterinary use and a live vaccine for use in wildlife in Africa to help prevent the transmission of Ebolavirus from animals to humans,” NIAID says.

Immunovaccine Inc.: This small Canadian company based in Nova Scotia is making a vaccine that uses immune stimulating protein from the Ebola virus plus compounds called adjuvants, which boost the immune system response to the vaccine. The company just started testing the vaccine in monkeys but says a test in four monkeys protected all four of them from Ebola.