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Baltimore Volunteers Line Up In The Race To Find An Ebola Vaccine

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The race to find an Ebola vaccine is now lining up volunteers here in Baltimore.

Alex DeMetrick has more on what doctors and volunteers face during a vaccine trial.

The University of Maryland is now testing the Ebola vaccine, developed at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

The vaccine takes only one protein from the virus, which is not enough to give a person Ebola, but "this one protein that can lead to immune responses that allow protection," said Dr. Myron Levine, University of Maryland Center for Vaccine Development.

Volunteers have begun signing up in Baltimore for a vaccine trial starting next month.

The University of Maryland has already started a study on five health care workers in Mali, which does not have any Ebola cases, but borders the countries that do.

The first thing researchers are looking for are side effects.

"Do they have fever? Do they have headaches? Do they feel tired?" Levine said.

That's exactly what volunteers here will be checked for.

It's a standard process that was used earlier during the search for a vaccine against the Avian flu and begins with safety screening.

The idea is to give the immune system antibodies to fight off a virus infection.

"Then in the future when you're exposed to it, you don't get sick. And the vaccines are specifically made to trick the immune system into making those antibodies," said Dr. James Campbell, University of Maryland vaccine researcher.

The goal for the Avian flu vaccine is the same goal when checking Ebola vaccine volunteers for protective antibodies.

The difference is the speed researchers are racing at.

"Warp speed. Warp speed. So we hope to keep up this warp speed," a researcher said.

Against a virus that isn't slowing down.

Ebola vaccine research is moving fast because it's not starting from scratch. It's building on earlier studies done by a number of institutions.

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