Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Merck buys rights to NewLink’s Ebola vaccine

Drug is set to enter large phase III study in early 2015
Merck building

Merck & Co has joined the race to develop a vaccine for the Ebola virus after agreeing a deal to develop NewLink Genetics' investigational candidate.

Merck will gain exclusive rights to rVSV-EBOV, a vaccine candidate originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) that is currently in phase I clinical trials to prevent the Ebola virus and is set to enter a large phase III study in the New Year. The PHAC retains non-commercial rights to the vaccine.

The vaccine is based on a strain of vesicular stomatitis virus that has been modified to express an Ebola virus protein. It is currently being investigated in a limited number of patients at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in the US and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Additional phase I studies are planned to take place in Switzerland, Germany, Kenya, and Gabon in a global effort coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO) while the Canadian Immunization Research Network will lead trials in Canada.

The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa has so far claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and has led to a global effort from public and private healthcare organisations to fight the disease.

The fight is made tougher by the lack of approved treatments or vaccines for the Ebola virus and the WHO has backed the use of untested drugs, such as Mapp Pharmacueticals' ZMapp which has had some degree of success in the limited number people it has been used in, while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has encouraged companies to apply for orphan drug status to speed up research.

For larger pharma companies the main interest has been in developing a vaccine to prevent the disease and several companies have fast-tracked research programmes.

This includes GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which is researching ChAd3-EBOV with support from the European Commission. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is also fast-tracking an Ebola programme and has said it intends to produce more than one million doses of an Ebola vaccine in 2015.

Merck now joins these two companies and – like GSK – is set to work with the US NIH on a phase III study in early 2015 to evaluate the safety and efficacy of each company's respective vaccine. J&J is also working with the NIH but as part of a separate programme.

25th November 2014

From: Research, Healthcare



COVID-19 Updates and Daily News

Featured jobs


Add my company

OncoSec is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing cytokine-based intratumoral immunotherapies to stimulate the body's immune system to target...

Latest intelligence

Love in the Time of Coronavirus
Having gone through 4 stages of coping with covid-19: first disbelief, then humour, then creative ways to deal with isolation, and finally the tragic realisation that lives are being lost...
The other side of … multiple sclerosis
No good comes from excluding patients from having a say in their own care. In fact, improving activation (& outcomes) demands it....
The other side of … Crohn’s disease
What patients say is their truth about living with chronic conditions. “I want to believe in my doctor but I feel more comfortable getting my guidance elsewhere.”...