Oxford University begins trials of Nipah virus vaccine

The bat-borne disease can also be spread through contact with infected animals, such as pigs, or from person to person.

The University of Oxford has begun the first human clinical trials of the ChAdOx1 NipahB vaccine, designed to combat the dangerous Nipah virus. Developed by researchers at the university’s Institute of Pandemic Sciences, this vaccine is part of the institution’s mission to find practical solutions to global infectious disease threats.

In this groundbreaking study, fifty-one participants aged 18 to 55 years will take part in the study, led by the Oxford Vaccine Group in the Department of Paediatrics and supported by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Nipah virus can be fatal in approximately 75% of cases. Outbreaks have been reported in Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India, with a recent outbreak occurring in Kerala, India in September 2023. The disease, transmitted by fruit bats, can also be spread by contact with infected animals (such as pigs). or from person to person through close contact.

Although the World Health Organization recognizes Nipah as a priority disease requiring urgent research, 25 years after the first outbreaks, there are no approved vaccines or treatments.

Professor Brian Angus, principal investigator of the study and Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Center for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, emphasizes the importance of this study: “This vaccine trial is an important milestone in finding a solution that can prevent local outbreaks while helping the world prepare for future global pandemic.”

Dr. In-Kyu Yoon, acting executive director of vaccine research and development at CEPI, a major global funder of Nipah virus research, adds: “Nipah has epidemic potential because its bats have been found “in areas inhabited by more than two billion people.” This trial is a step forward in efforts to develop defenses against this deadly virus, and the knowledge gained may also help develop countermeasures against other paramyxoviruses.”

The project will continue for the next 18 months, with further testing expected in the Nipah-affected country.


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