J&J aims for 1 million Ebola vaccine doses in 2015

J&J aims for 1 million Ebola vaccine doses in 2015

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson is accelerating work on its experimental Ebola vaccine and aims to produce 1 million doses next year, 250,000 of which are expected to be available by May.

There is currently no proven vaccine against the deadly disease but several companies are racing to develop products. Clinical tests on two – from GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics – are already under way.

The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes that tens of thousands of people in West Africa, including frontline healthcare workers at high risk of infection, can start receiving Ebola vaccines from January as part of large-scale clinical trials.

J&J said on Wednesday that it would test its vaccine for safety and immune response in healthy volunteers in Europe, the United States and Africa from early January, adding that it will commit up to 0 million to accelerate the program.

The J&J vaccine was discovered in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and includes technology from Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic, which will now receive a cash injection from the American healthcare company.

The total potential deal value for Bavarian Nordic could be more than 7 million, including upfront payments, milestone payments based on product progress, a supply contract and the purchase by J&J of shares in the Danish biotech business.

Bavarian Nordic’s share price jumped 19 percent in early trading after the announcement of J&J’s plans.

SIMPLIFIED VACCINE

West Africa’s Ebola outbreak began in March and has killed more than 4,500 people, most of them in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, according to the WHO. Outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria have been declared over by the WHO and there have been a handful of cases in Spain and the United States.

J&J has simplified and fast-tracked its vaccine program in the light of the world’s worst Ebola outbreak, which is still ravaging the three worst-hit West African countries.

Originally it had been working to develop a vaccine against both the Zaire and Sudan strains of Ebola, as well as a related condition called Marburg disease.

That long-term program will continue, but J&J is now also developing a vaccine targeting only the Zaire
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J&J aims for 1 million Ebola vaccine doses in 2015 – Reuters

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