Ebola vaccine gets $115M to speed development

Johnson & Johnson said on Friday that newly formed groups supporting work on its experimental Ebola vaccine would receive 100 million euros ($115 million) from Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative to speed development. The U.S. drug maker earlier this month announced it had started clinical trials of its two-injection vaccine, which uses a booster from Denmark’sBavarian Nordic, making it the third such product to enter human testing.

J&J began testing its Ebola-virus vaccine in humans earlier this month, with plans to have more than 400,000 doses available for large-scale clinical trials by April. J&J accelerated development of the vaccine regimen last fall as the Ebola virus continued to spread, overwhelming health-care systems across West Africa. The early-stage clinical trial is being led by the University of Oxford’s pediatrics department. J&J is also looking to launch mid-to-late-stage trials in Europe and Africa.

Health authorities and drug makers world-wide have been racing to develop treatments for those infected with the Ebola virus and vaccines to protect those not yet sickened. J&J’s vaccine proved safe and protective against the virus during testing in monkeys, which J&J Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said was normally a strong sign that the regimen would work in humans.

Two other experimental vaccines, one from GlaxoSmithKline and a rival from NewLink and Merck, are already in clinical development. J&J has been seeking partners after committing up to $200 million to accelerate its Ebola vaccine program in October.

The new initiative will see J&J join with institutions including the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford and the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale to form consortia working on different aspects of vaccine development.

Chimerix started testing its Ebola drug on patients in Liberia earlier this month, in partnership with Oxford University and Doctors Without Borders.


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