The world took a small but significant step toward an Ebola vaccine today. Results of a study involving 20 people in the US found that the vaccine worked well enough to move on to round two—a much bigger test group of thousands of people in Africa, reports USA Today. If all goes well, that means the vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline could be available in the second half of next year, reports the BBC. The National Institutes of Health reported the results today.
"Whether it's a breakthrough depends on making sure that all the rest of data over the next few weeks and months is in line," says the chief executive of the drug-maker. "But this certainly gives us very significant cause for optimism." One drawback: It took high doses of the drug to trigger an immune response, which could eventually complicate mass production. One plus: The vaccine contains no live Ebola virus and can't cause the disease. A second vaccine candidate being tested does use live Ebola virus, but it's been "crippled so it can’t reproduce once it infects a person," explains Time. (Read more Ebola vaccine stories.)