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陰謀論を超えて – 細部を積み重ねることから

 
エボラ熱のワクチン開発、急速に進んでいる=英GSK

2014年 10月 20日 08:44 JST
[ロンドン 18日 ロイター] - 英製薬大手グラクソ・スミスクライン(GSK) は18日、エボラ出血熱のワクチン開発は急速に進んでいるとの見方を示した。
GSKはウェブサイトに掲載した声明で「ワクチン候補品の開発はかつてない速さで進んでいる。第1段階の安全性試験は米国、英国とマリで実施中で、来週以降も他国で開始する」と説明した。

GSKのプレスリリースについては、以下リンク先です。TOEIC的な文章なので英語学習にもなります。

GSK update on current development status of the GSK/NIH Ebola vaccine candidate
18 October 2014
Issued: London UK

『ホットゾーン』の著者リチャードプレストンの追記が以下リンクで読めますが、現在の状況をまとめたレポートが今週のNew Yorkerで読むことができます。

『ホット・ゾーン』エボラ克服には、地球規模の強大な努力が不可欠だ
 2014年アウトブレークに際しての著者追記
飛鳥新社2014年10月06日

最前線で取り組んでいる医師、医療従事者や研究者などを軸に、エボラウィルスのゲノム解析や、ZMappという研究段階の新薬などを取り上げています。このレポートを読むと、生身の人間が難局に立ち向かっている様子がよく分かります。

A Reporter at Large OCTOBER 27, 2014 ISSUE
The Ebola Wars
How genomics research can help contain the outbreak.

BY RICHARD PRESTON

このレポートの最後の方に、冒頭で紹介したGSKのワクチンも紹介されていました。GSKがプレスリリースをこのタイミングで出したのは、New Yorkerの記事の影響もあったのでしょうか。

Sun Tzu, the great Chinese strategist, wrote that one of the rules of war is to know the enemy. Sabeti and her team now had a way to watch Ebola as it changed; they had the enemy in sight. This meant that the tests for Ebola could be updated quickly as the virus changed, and that the scientists might also be able to see it mutating in some dangerous direction.

Meanwhile, scientists have been developing weapons against the virus and are starting to test them. The scientists who came up with ZMapp, along with Kentucky BioProcessing, were racing to increase the production of ZMapp and to get it tested as a new drug in patients infected with Ebola. The hope is to get the drug through clinical trials and gain the support of a regulatory agency. Even at increased production speed, the supply of ZMapp would still be nowhere near enough to treat the population, but it might be enough—provided it was effective—to kill Ebola in some infected people. If there were a drug that could save somebody from Ebola, this might help encourage health professionals to work in Ebola wards, knowing that there would be a treatment for them if they got infected.

In addition to many drug candidates, there are vaccines in development. In early September, the National Institutes of Health began testing a vaccine, made by a division of GlaxoSmithKline and based on an adenovirus, on twenty volunteers. Another vaccine, called VSV-EBOV, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics, started human trials last week. It seems possible that some time next year a vaccine may be available for use on people who have already been exposed to Ebola, though it will still not be cleared for general use. If a vaccine is safe and shows effectiveness against Ebola, and if it can be transported in the tropical climate without breaking down, then vaccinations against Ebola could someday begin.

このレポートで、National Center for Biotechnology Informationがゲノムのシークエンスをリアルタイムで公開しているのも知りました。

また、雑誌Scienceでは先月ゲノム分析の成果が発表されていたのですね。

Published Online August 28 2014
Science 12 September 2014:
Vol. 345 no. 6202 pp. 1369-1372
DOI: 10.1126/science.1259657
•REPORT
Genomic surveillance elucidates Ebola virus origin and transmission during the 2014 outbreak

In its largest outbreak, Ebola virus disease is spreading through Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. We sequenced 99 Ebola virus genomes from 78 patients in Sierra Leone to ~2000× coverage. We observed a rapid accumulation of interhost and intrahost genetic variation, allowing us to characterize patterns of viral transmission over the initial weeks of the epidemic. This West African variant likely diverged from central African lineages around 2004, crossed from Guinea to Sierra Leone in May 2014, and has exhibited sustained human-to-human transmission subsequently, with no evidence of additional zoonotic sources. Because many of the mutations alter protein sequences and other biologically meaningful targets, they should be monitored for impact on diagnostics, vaccines, and therapies critical to outbreak response.

レポートでも触れられていますが、この研究に従事した方が命を落としています。この論文でも以下のように触れられています。

In memoriam: Tragically, five co-authors, who contributed greatly to public health and research efforts in Sierra Leone, contracted EVD and lost their battle with the disease before this manuscript could be published: Mohamed Fullah, Mbalu Fonnie, Alex Moigboi, Alice Kovoma, and S. Humarr Khan. We wish to honor their memory.

陰謀論というのは、このような前線で働いている人の労力から目を背けるものでしかないのでは、と安易な陰謀論に飛びついてしまった自分を反省しました。

ネタバレ恐縮ですが、リチャードプレストンのレポートの最後がかっこいいものだったのでご紹介させてください。人類にはエボラウィルスにはないself-awareness, the ability to work in teams, and the willingness to sacrificeがあるというくだりです。

In the U.S. and Europe, hospitals have made fatal mistakes in protocol as they engage with Ebola for the first time—errors that no well-trained health worker in Africa would likely make. But they will learn. By now, the warriors against Ebola understand that they face a long struggle against a formidable enemy. Many of their weapons will fail, but some will begin to work. The human species carries certain advantages in this fight and has things going for it that Ebola does not. These include self-awareness, the ability to work in teams, and the willingness to sacrifice, traits that have served us well during our expansion into our environment. If Ebola can change, we can change, too, and maybe faster than Ebola.
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