By Ndidi Chukwu
Defence Health Implementation Programme (HIP) in collaboration with Jos University Teaching Hospital are set to commence a new study on an experimental Ebola vaccine as early as late June for the first time. Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, ahead of next week’s annual clinical summit trial, director-general of HIP, Maj-Gen Life Ajemba, said the MOD’s Walter Reed Programme, which it runs in collaboration with the US Department of Defence, scaled through rigorous investigations to qualify for the international multi-nation study.
“For any research to be done, it means your infrastructure and personnel training has to improve, so research helps us to advance,” Ajemba said. The announcement comes ahead of next week’s third annual clinical trial summit in Lagos, organised by the Association for Good Clinical Practice in Nigeria (AGCPIN), to update the state of clinical trials in Nigeria and map the challenges. Researchers are looking to test whether a single dose of an experimental vaccine developed by GSK Biologicals is safe and can provoke an immune response against the Zaire species of Ebola virus in African adults.
The Ministry of Defence’s Health Implementation Programme has coded the study RV 429, for a recombinant vectored vaccine. Recombinant vectored vaccines use attenuated DNA of microbes into body cells. RV 429 uses recombinant type-3 adenovirus from chimpanzees as carrier for the vaccine.
Previous studies reported in international health journals have shown encouraging results using chimpanzee-based adenovirus in mice and guinea pigs. MOD’s HIP—which started in 2005 as the Emergency Programme Implementation Committee, in response to HIV epidemic—will use Abuja as its site, while Jos University Teaching Hospital, a study partner, will site its study in Jos, according to Brig-Gen Ojor Ayemoba, director of MOD’s Reference Laboratory in Asokoro, Abuja. Both institutions give Nigeria two studies, the only African countries among five to have more than one study. HIP has more than 49 sites across the airforce, navy and army facilities, all coordinated from its Abuja headquarters.