Scientists in Oxford, England, are beginning the first human trials of an experimental Ebola virus vaccine.
The vaccine will be administered to 60 healthy volunteers, after favorable results are obtained in laboratory animals.
It contains only a small portion of the virus’s genetic material, so it cannot cause disease.
The combination is expected to stimulate the production of experiments against Ebola in humans.
Normally it would take years of human trials before a new vaccine is approved for use.
But such is the urgency following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that this experimental vaccine is being tested with astonishing speed.
The vaccine could be ready to immunize health workers treating Ebola patients by the end of the year.
By then, around 10,000 doses will surely be available.
The vaccine is being developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the National Institutes of Health.
The study will try to establish two things: that the vaccine produces a good immune response in volunteers and that it causes few side effects.
Dr Edward Wright, from the University of Westminster, said the scientific team combined a benign Ebola gene with a virus that causes the common flu in chimpanzees.
The vaccine cannot trigger the disease but scientists hope it will boost the production of tests against Ebola.
Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute in Oxford, who is leading the study, said: «This is a remarkable example of how quickly a new vaccine can progress in the clinic, thanks to international cooperation.»
Volunteers’ blood tests will reveal the extent of their testing response in two to four weeks.
Other volunteers will be vaccinated in Africa next month and there are trials in the United States with a different formula. Both vaccines could be used if they prove to be safe and effective.
Promising results from animal studies were published earlier this month.