Two experimental DNA vaccines against Ebola and Marburg viruses have been found to be safe and equally effective following trials on a group of African adults.
Both the vaccines were found to generate similar immune response in a group of healthy Ugandans, as found in trails involving US adults.
This is the first time a study found comparable safety and protection of an experimental Ebola vaccine in an African population, said Dr Julie Ledgerwood of National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Ledgerwood termed the result as 'particularly encouraging', given that African populations were most at risk to the Ebola virus.
The trial findings, ascertaining the safety of the vaccines and their immunogenic effectiveness among the African population was published in The Lancet.
The Ebola virus was first detected in 1976 and has a very high fatality rate at about 90%. Marburg -- a virus closely related to Ebola -- was detected in 1967 and has a fatality rate hovering around 80%.
Both of these are filovirus that causes multiple instances of internal bleeding in victims stricken by the virus, with the patients usually dying of multiple organ failure.
There is no effective vaccine currently for either virus. However, the 2014 Ebola outbreak that killed 7,373 individuals in Africa, pushed many nations and scientists to jumpstart the efforts to find a vaccine at the earliest.
The three most affected countries – Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea -- have reported a staggering 19,000 cases, for which neither the government nor the international aid agencies were prepared.
The trials saw scientists develop DNA vaccines from virus proteins from Zaire and Sudan strains, as the ongoing outbreak is from the Zaire strain. However researchers found that the antibodies last no more than eleven months, depleting to undetectable levels.
Dr Saranya Sridhar from the Jenner Institute at UK's University of Oxford said the study, "deserves to be the focal point around which the broader question of vaccine development, particularly for Africa, must be addressed," reported Allvoices.
Dr. Sridhar termed the study as the first step towards eventually deploying filovirus vaccines in Africa.