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Canadians to test Ebola vaccine this fall

The Canadian Ebola vaccine will soon enter new trial phase, meaning it’s one step closer to being used.

On Tuesday, the International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the next phase of clinical trials for the Ebola vaccine (VSV-EBOV), originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, will begin in fall 2016.

"Canada is a leader on the world scientific stage, and this vaccine is example of how we can translate that knowledge into a vaccine that will ultimately protect some of the world's poorest and most vulnerable from another Ebola outbreak, as well as Canadians abroad," said Bibeau.

This will involve testing the vaccine on volunteers with HIV.

The study will be managed by the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN), with trial sites in Ottawa, Montreal, Senegal and Burkina Faso.

The first Canadian vaccinations are anticipated for November 2016, with trials beginning in Africa next year.

This phase follows Phase I trials in Canada in 2014, a Phase II trial on front-line health workers, and a Phase III ring-vaccination trial in Guinea during the Ebola outbreak. Initial results from the ring-vaccination trial in Guinea were originally published in The Lancet in July 2015, with final results expected later in fall 2016.

"This next phase of clinical trials is an important milestone in the development of the world's first proven, effective vaccine against the Ebola virus,” said Philpott. “Continuing work that began in 2000 at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, this candidate Ebola vaccine is a testament to the wealth of health research expertise and leadership here in Canada.”

The goal of this new clinical trial is to test how it protects HIV-positive people, which will enable more widespread future use of the vaccine.

"It is particularly important to study the effectiveness of this Ebola vaccine in vulnerable populations, such as those living with HIV," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, who led the development of the protocol for this study. "These populations can often be most at-risk during outbreaks, because of their compromised immune systems."

The trial will run for approximately 2 years, beginning in late 2016. It represents an overall investment of CAD$3.5 million.

A total of 22 million people in 15 countries across Africa remain are currently at risk of a potential outbreak of the Ebola virus.

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