Federal health officials are giving a small biotech company nearly $6 million to speed up development of another vaccine against Ebola, the third in a pipeline of vaccines to fight the virus.
Baltimore-based Profectus BioSciences Inc has been working on the vaccine, made using another virus called vesicular stomatitis virus. The virus is genetically engineered to carry a piece of the Ebola virus to help stimulate the immune system. “The company will manufacture vaccine for use in animal safety studies and future clinical trials and conduct animal studies to test safety. The contract can be extended to a total of 13 months and $8.6 million,” an office within the Health and Human Services Department said in a statement.
The National Institutes of Health is helping with Phase 1 clinical trials — meant to show a vaccine is safe — for an Ebola vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline and one developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corp. It’ll be months before any vaccine would be available, and even then it will be a small amount, probably used to protect health care workers. But experts say it’s a vital first step to getting doctors, nurses and technicians to even come and help fight the outbreak in West Africa. Health workers are among those at highest risk of getting infected.
— Maggie Fox