Why GSK's promising hep C vaccine is good news for its Ebola drug
- GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has developed a vaccine for hepatitis C (HCV) which is currently in the earliest stages of testing. Early results show that the vaccine is safe, well tolerated, and generates immune responses stronger than any seen before in an experimental hep C vaccine.
- GSK is using the same technology to develop an Ebola vaccine. The connection between the two vaccines-in-development has encouraged observers.
- The underlying science is based on using a common cold virus (an adenovirus) to infect a vaccinated individual's cells, with the goal of taking up genes from the target virus to produce the proteins that confer immunity.
The science behind GSK's vaccine development efforts seems very straightforward and simple. However, the process of testing the vaccines to determine their strength, while also examining tolerability and factors related to timing and booster shots, can be time consuming and complex.
But GSK is progressing. Scientists have learned a lot about HCV, which affects 180 million people worldwide, by studying people who clear the virus from their bodies naturally. The ability to extrapolate this knowledge to the development of an Ebola vaccine bodes well for expedited development.