A needle-free Ebola vaccine is getting a lot of attention at a convention taking place this week in San Diego.
The nose spray, which is not yet named, is the latest effort against the Ebola outbreak. So far, it’s showing promising results, according to the vaccine’s creator Maria Croyle.
Croyle is one of the most buzzed-about scientists at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists convention.
Croyle said she was approached by a team of first responders seven years ago who wanted a needle-free Ebola vaccine. Back then, Ebola wasn't in the headlines, and it wasn't in the U-S.
“A common reaction we would get from people was, 'really? Why are you interested in that? It (Ebola) only happens to a handful of people,” Croyle said in an exclusive interview with NBC 7.
The nasal vaccine uses a common cold virus, takes out the genes that make it infectious and replaces it with the proteins that cover the outside of the Ebola virus.
Test results have been better than expected, Croyle said. The vaccine successfully protected every monkey in the study from Ebola.
“It produces a lot of Ebola protein in a relatively short period of time, within 24 hours. We see extensive amounts of this protein being made. That's the key in the engine to fuel up the immune system to go," she said.
What makes this vaccine so attractive is how easily it can be administered. It's the only nasal Ebola vaccine currently being tested. Also, it doesn't need to be refrigerated, which could be a big plus in transporting it to West Africa.
Now, Croyle said she and her team from the University of Texas at Austin are at a crossroads. They need more funding and resources to continue clinical trials.
If trials on humans are successful, the hope is to have the vaccine approved and available for use within a year.
“It's that thing you dream about in grad school. After seven years of really working on this and people not understanding why I was so determined and driven to, I guess I deserve a little attention and appreciation from it," she said,
At least six Ebola vaccine trials are currently underway.