Georgia State researchers developing Ebola vaccine

Georgia State researchers are working on an Ebola vaccine after the virus outbreak in West Africa had been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, according to Newswise.

The researchers use methods that differ from the traditional approach of of creating vaccinations, according to Newswise.

Dr. Julia Hilliard, Georgia State researcher, said she is also working to create diagnostics and therapeutics for the Ebola virus.

“Understanding the mechanisms by which viruses invade the central nervous system and host actions that control this invasion serves to inform the rational design of successful intervention strategies for therapeutics and vaccines,” she said.

Their method includes targeting a small amino acid sequence in a similar virus, eliminating the need for high risk facilities and fusing it to a bacterial protein known to activate human immune system responses, according to Newswise.

“GSU is the only graduate/undergraduate university that has a bio-safety level 4 laboratory, which is part of my laboratory in the Viral Immunology Center. We work with BSL4 viruses and are a registered Select Agent facility, and we planned to initiate our studies with Ebola at the time we relocated the BSL4 lab to the new Petit Science Center, ” Hilliard said.

The bio-safety laboratory is level 4 because it contains high risk microbes including Ebola and the Marburg virus, according to the CDC’s website.

“It is always difficult to predict how rapidly basic science can be moved to the bedside, but this most recent outbreak of ebola underscores that experimental theranostics can be more rapidly implemented in times of crisis,” Hilliard said.

Hillard also said she hopes to enhance the way these deadly infections are diagnosed by learning more about the host pathogen.

“We will be able to identify how to treat infected individuals even before the onset of clinically apparent symptoms, Hilliard said.