Vaccines based on a herpes virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) provide protection against Ebola virus, a study on rhesus macaque, a non-human primate, was found. The study researchers from Plymouth University, National Institutes of Health and University of California, Riverside, assert that this is a crucial step toward the development of Ebola virus vaccines for humans and other apes.

The study, published online in the journal Scientific Reports on Feb.15, provides insight into how the protection works. The CMV-based vaccines produced high levels of antibodies against the Ebola virus with no detectable Ebola-specific T cells. The researchers say that the herpes virus-based vaccines have been speculated to produce the Ebola virus to protect the person but these results were not seen before because previous studies showed that the vaccines did not produce antibodies at all.

“This finding was complete serendipity,” lead researcher, Michael Jarvis, says in a statement. “Although we will definitely need to explore this finding further, it suggests that we may be able to bias immunity towards either antibodies or T cells based on the time of target antigen production. This is exciting not just for Ebola, but for vaccination against other infectious as well as non-infectious diseases.”

The researchers note that the Ebola virus inflicts damaging effects on wild apes. This study shows one approach to protect ape populations in Africa.

The Ebola virus disease is a severe and fatal disease wherein the first outbreak occurred in remote villages in Central Africa. On the average, the fatality rate is around 50 percent. Current treatments for the illness involve supportive care, rehydrating the patient with oral or intravenous fluids and targeting specific symptoms, which appears two to 21 days from infection.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states diagnosing Ebola requires employing ELISA (antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), antigen-capture detection tests, electron microscopy, virus isolation, serum neutralisation test and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay. Preventing the Ebola virus disease needs case management, contact racing and raising the public’s awareness about the disease.