Three companies in pursuit of Ebola vaccine

The Ebola virus is one of the most dangerous and feared pathogens on the planet for which there is no effective treatment, but at least three companies are poised to make significant developments towards one in the near future.

In addition to the high mortality rate of Ebola infection, which is approximately 70 percent, the health deterioration caused by the virus is especially frightening. At least 10 percent of victims endure severe internal and external hemorrhaging that includes bleeding from the intestine, nose and mouth, according to

With no U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved treatment for the illness, patients are generally treated with antibiotics to limit secondary infections, electrolyte supplementation to prevent dehydration, oxygen administration to aide breathing, and pro-coagulants to aid in controlling hemorrhaging.

Three companies are poised to change the accepted regimens through the development of Ebola-specific vaccines.

NanoViricides, Inc., is currently developing a treatment for Ebola and its relative, Marburg virus, through its biodefense program. The company is working on a nanoparticle made of a micelle polymer that can identify and target the virus. The benefit of using a nanoviricide is that the virus can be incapacitated without the aid of the body's immune system, reports.

NanoViricides is currently conducting preclinical animal studies to analyze the efficacy of its product and hopes to obtain non-equity funding for the project.

AVI BioPharma is working on novel modifications to the chemical structure of RNA to produce therapeutics that suppress the genetic expression of the viral genome, which would stop the proliferation of the virus. Two of the company's lead candidates have achieved success rates of between 80 to 100 percent against Ebola and Marburg challenges in non-primates.

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is researching a new drug delivery technology called a lipid nanoparticle, which is comprised of lipid molecules structured in a circular bi-layer that serve to encapsulate therapies and improve drug efficacy and stability. In combination with previously unstable RNA oligomers, the company has been able to effectively achieve high levels of gene suppression in target organs.

Pre-clinical animal trials of Tekmira's candidate TKM-Ebola have given complete protection against the virus. The company plans to file an Investigational New Drug application with the FDA in order to initiate Phase I clinical trials of its candidate.