Fifty-one people aged 18 to 55 will participate in the trial of the ChAdOx1 NipahB vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of Oxford’s Pandemic Sciences Institute, the university said in a statement.
Nipah virus is a devastating disease that can be fatal in about 75 percent of cases. Outbreaks have occurred in Southeast Asian countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India, with the most recent outbreak occurring in Kerala, India in September 2023.
Nipah virus is carried by fruit bats and can be transmitted from person to person through contact with infected animals (such as pigs) or through close contact.
Despite the first outbreak of Nipah virus 25 years ago in Malaysia and Singapore, there is currently no approved vaccine or treatment.
“Nipah virus was first identified in 1998, and 25 years on, the global health community still has no approved vaccine or treatment for this devastating disease,” said Professor Brian Angus, principal investigator of the trial and professor at the University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine.
“Due to the high mortality rate and nature of Nipah virus transmission, this disease is identified as a priority epidemic pathogen. “This vaccine trial is an important milestone in identifying a solution that can prevent local outbreaks, while also helping the world prepare for future global pandemics.”
Nipah virus, recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a priority disease requiring urgent research, belongs to the same family of paramyxoviruses as more well-known pathogens such as measles.
Scientists have developed a vaccine against Nipah virus using the ChAdOx1 platform, the same viral vector vaccine platform used for the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and it has saved an estimated six million lives worldwide.
The project will run for the next 18 months, with more trials expected in Nipah-affected countries.