Ebola Virus Shows Signs of Mutation
French scientists have warned that the Ebola virus has started to mutate leading to fears that it may become more contagious. Researchers at Institut Pasteur are beginning to analyse hundreds of blood samples from Ebola patients in Guinea for signs that the virus has changed since it was originally identified in March 2014.
Virus mutations are relatively common but scientists are concerned that Ebola could eventually turn into an airborne disease if given enough time. The latest results from vaccine trials have proved disappointing after a total of 60 healthy volunteers were immunised at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute between September and November last year.
Professor Jonathon Bell, a vaccine molecular virologist from the University of Nottingham said; “The magnitude of the immune responses observed in the vaccine recipients were less than those observed in monkeys that were protected from experimental Ebola virus infection, but we don’t fully understand what degree of immunity humans require in order to protect them from infection. That’s why clinical trials are important.”
Scientists are working on two vaccines one of which is based on the measles virus, which they hope will provide additional protection against Ebola. The current outbreak in West Africa has so far claimed nearly 9,000 lives with over 22,000 cases across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.