Health

Ebola vaccine seems safe in first-stage testing, researchers say

Nov. 5, 2014: In this file photo, on the outskirts of the city of Monrovia, Liberia, a health worker stands inside a medical tent that forms part of a new American clinic to be used for the treatment of people suffering from the Ebola virus.

Nov. 5, 2014: In this file photo, on the outskirts of the city of Monrovia, Liberia, a health worker stands inside a medical tent that forms part of a new American clinic to be used for the treatment of people suffering from the Ebola virus.  (AP)

Researchers say an experimental Ebola vaccine appears safe and has triggered signs of immune protection in the first 20 volunteers to test it.

According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the vaccine is designed to spur the immune system's production of anti-Ebola antibodies. Some of those given the vaccine developed antibodies within four weeks of getting the shots at the National Institutes of Health. Half of the test group received a higher-dose shot, and those people produced more antibodies.

The study also found that some people also developed a different set of virus-fighting immune cells, called T cells. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci  calls both types of immune responses "a promising factor."

The researchers reported no serious side effects.

Scientists are racing to develop ways to prevent or treat the Ebola virus. It has killed more than 5,600 people in West Africa, most of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.