Stopping a killer

Stopping a killer

A professor at UT Austin is working on a vaccine for the deadly Ebola virus.

Dr. Maria Croyle, an associate professor of pharmaceutics in the College of Pharmacy, is developing the vaccine with $2.6 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Research and Technology Initiative.

Croyle will lead an international research team to study the immune responses after administering a vaccine either by nasal spray or tablet. The team includes researchers from Croyle’s laboratory as well as those of Dr. Gary Kobinger at the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and Dr. David Weiner at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Ebola is one of the most lethal pathogens known to man and, although outbreaks are in limited regions, the lethality of the virus is increasing with a reported 90 percent mortality rate in some regions,” Croyle said.

Once someone has the virus, doctors can treat the symptoms only, so preventive measures are particularly important, she says.

Croyle’s expertise in oral and nasal drug delivery increase the likelihood that her team will create a highly effective vaccine. Without the need for needle vaccinations, people can administer the vaccines to themselves during an outbreak. Eliminating needles also minimizes the public health concerns associated with needle-stick-induced infections.

Croyle hopes that once her team conquers Ebola it can use its techniques to fight other diseases.