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Pirbright marks a century of research into infectious diseases

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ONE Health was a focal point of the two-day conference on September 11 and 12, with half a day devoted entirely to talks on different aspects of infectious diseases and One Health. As part of this, Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, highlighted the topical issue of Ebola virus, and in particular how the search for an effective vaccine is now a top priority. He said that the disease, which was first discovered in 1976 in Zaire, had previously been limited to a few small outbreaks, but the current outbreak in West Africa was unprecedented. He also noted that research had already been ongoing for several years in North America ‘to try and make a multivalent vaccine that could be useful should the disease ever make it to the United States’.

Professor Hill outlined work being undertaken by the Jenner Institute (funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council and the Department for International Development) in human trials of an Ebola vaccine based on chimpanzee adenovirus. The vaccine had already been tested in non-human primates with promising results and similar trials were underway in the USA. If the vaccine was found to be effective, said Professor Hill, the hope was to begin using it before the end of 2014.

He also outlined his recommendations for how to deal with similar infectious diseases. With regard to Ebola, he said, ‘We did not have to be in a position where we had no vaccine for a disease that occurs again and again. We could see this coming and we did nothing about it.’

He suggested that for diseases like Ebola where outbreaks were generally infrequent and localised, efforts should be made in advance to create vaccines and test them in small animals and relevant species. …

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