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Ebola vaccine shows long-term protection over 2 years

A nurse administers an Ebola vaccine in Monrovia, Liberia on February 2, 2015 as part of a clinical research study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the Liberian Ministry of Health.
A nurse administers an Ebola vaccine in Monrovia, Liberia, as part of a 2015 clinical research study. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

An Ebola vaccine made by Merck has protected a group of volunteers for two years — the longest it has been shown to protect against the disease, according to a study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The context: "A fast-acting, long-lasting vaccine given in a single dose would be an effective tool for controlling dangerous Ebola outbreaks," STAT's Helen Branswell reports.

Yes, but: The vaccine targets only one strain of Ebola, known as Zaire, and samples from additional trials will be needed to support these findings.

What's next: Merck is looking to apply for FDA approval of the candidate vaccine this year.

Stay tuned for: The lead author of the paper and an infectious disease specialist, Angela Huttner and her team have collected blood samples from volunteers in Geneva, Switzerland to see how the vaccine performs after three years, but they haven't analyzed them yet.

  • Huttner told STAT: “Our hypothesis is that the values we’re seeing at two years shouldn’t change too much at three, four, and five years.”

Take note: Some experts in the industry believe a two-dose vaccine, like the ones being developed by Janssen Vaccines and Prevention BV, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, may be better equipped at offering long-term protection.

Haley Britzky 8 hours ago
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The E.U. and U.K. want to be front and center on AI research

Theresa May visits an engineering facility.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May visits an engineering training facility in Birmingham. Photo: Andrew Yates/AFP/Getty Images

The E.U. and U.K. both announced major investments in artificial intelligence research this week, with more than 50 tech companies contributing to a £1 billion deal in the U.K., and the European Commission announcing it would be allocating €1.5 billion to AI research until 2020.

The big picture: The U.K.'s deal, as detailed in a government press release, will include funding for "8,000 specialist computer science teachers, 1,000 government-funded AI PhDs by 2025," and development for a "prestigious global Turing Fellowship" program to attract top talent. Per the release, the U.K. will also be developing "a world-leading Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation," to emphasize ethical standards with AI research. The E.U.'s deal also includes laying out clear ethical guidelines by the end of 2018.

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Romaine lettuce outbreak is a virulent one in an already busy 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's using whole genome testing and on-the-ground investigation to try to determine why the current E. coli outbreak from romaine lettuce is more virulent than normal — about half of all people affected have been hospitalized .

Data: Centers for Disease Control; Cartogram: Lazaro Gamio/Axios