UK scientists prepare for Nipah virus clinical trial

Vaccine vial and syringe

The University of Oxford has revealed that researchers are currently in the advanced stages of preparing for a clinical trial of a Nipah vaccine using the ChAdOx1 vector.

The scientists are also working with partners to develop antivirals and monoclonals to treat those infected, according to a statement from Professor Miles Carroll, Professor of Emerging Viruses at the Pandemic Sciences Institute, University of Oxford.

The current outbreak in Kerala includes five confirmed cases and two deaths reported, with many of those affected being family members of the first patient.

Severe Nipah virus is fatal in up to 75% of cases and survivors can be left with long-term neurological complications. There are currently no approved vaccines or treatments for Nipah virus infection.

“Scientists here in Oxford are working with local partners in endemic countries to find out more about Nipah so we can ensure the world is better protected from outbreaks of this kind,” said Carroll. “This includes a partnership with icddr,b in Bangladesh for collaborative research, including vaccine development. Our researchers are currently in the advanced stages of preparing for an Oxford clinical trial of a Nipah vaccine using the ChAdOx1 vector, and are also working with partners to develop antivirals and monoclonals to treat those infected.”

Nipah is a World Health Organisation and UK Vaccine Network priority pathogen based on the severity of the illness, the high risk of mortality, the possibility of person to person spread, and the lack of vaccines and treatments.

To date, Nipah outbreaks have occurred in countries in South-East Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. Seasonal outbreaks have occurred annually in Bangladesh since 2001. India has seen four outbreaks including the current outbreak in Kerala, with a virus that is related to but distinct from the strain circulating in Bangladesh.

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