Public and private donors in the U.K. have launched an emergency fund for researchers studying Ebola. They want a quick turnaround time for the research they bankroll. Applications for the fund are due September 8 and funders are hoping studies will finish within two months, the Guardian reports. The tight timeline is designed to make a difference in the current outbreak in West Africa, which Doctors Without Borders expects to last longer than six months.
The Guardian describes what kind of research they're looking to fund:
Among the projects they may look at are case detection systems in places such as Sierra Leone and Liberia where there is illiteracy and weak health infrastructure and where accurate data on the spread of the disease is difficult to come by. [Wellcome Trust international activities manager Val] Snewin said they would also be prepared to fund clinical trials for prototype diagnostic tools.
Among the areas that interest Wellcome are treatment-seeking behavior, case detection systems and clinical management.
This is the latest push to speed up Ebola research. The World Health Organization has declared that it is ethical to use experimental drugs in this outbreak––allowing some potential treatments to skip clinical trials that would validate the drug's safety and efficacy––and U.S. federal agencies want to fast-track human trials of a promising vaccine. If all goes well, the vaccine may be available sometime in 2015, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told USA Today.
The U.K. fund comes from a pool worth $10.8 million (6.5 million British pounds), although it's unclear exactly how much funders will use at this time. The pool comes from the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises program, which is a joint effort of the Wellcome Trust and the U.K.'s Department for International Development.
Experts from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and universities will review grant applications, the Guardian reports.