$21.6 M Grants for Remarkable Ebola Vaccine Research Results


Ebola vaccine development portfolio gets accelerated as Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under Department of Health and Human Services, United States backs it up with a fund of $21.6 million. A study released in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the current status in vaccine development with Phase I trial showing successful results. This has led BARDA to authorize another $21.6 million for speeding up the process.


Ebola Virus Disease

The outrageous breakout of a zoonotic disease further progressing into human transmission chains in March, 2014 left the whole world stunned. The outbreak in West Africa was massively destructive with 28,000 estimated cases and over 11,000 deaths, pushing World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.


Walks of the Vaccine

Considering the potential hazard that this virus may cause in case of another outbreak, several countries collaborated to develop a vaccine that can be used to treat and prevent this pathogen.  As an initiative, 800 vials of rVSV-ZEBOV candidate vaccine (replication-competent recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV)–vectored Zaire ebolavirus) were donated by the Government of Canada to the WHO. VSV Ebola Consortium was formed to hasten the expedition. Phase I trials were performed to detect the side-effect profile, and immunogenicity of rVSV-ZEBOV. 158 healthy adults from Europe and Africa were chosen for the trial.  Four different studies were carried out for a period of six months to obtain the immunogenicity data. Three open-label, dose-escalation  trial (Phase I)  and one randomized, double-blind, controlled trial (Phase I) were set up. 300,000 to 50 million plaque-forming units (PFU) was the dosage fixed.


The Silver Lining

No harmful side effects were observed on the vaccines. However, 30% of them had fever and 22% of them developed arthritis. After a month, the vaccine showed positive results with specific antibodies irrespective of the dosage administered and continued to exist for a period of six months after immunization. These results have guaranteed for immunogenicity of rVSV-ZEBOV promoting it in further studies on its efficacy.

Charles J. Link, Jr., M.D., Chairman, of Newlink Genetics announced in a press release, “BARDA is providing pivotal support and commitment to accelerated development of this Ebola vaccine candidate”.   

This lump sum funding of $21.6 million has increased the odds on developing a vaccine for Ebola virus in a faster pace.

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