An Ebola vaccine discovered in a collaborative research program with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) combines a vaccine developed at Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceuticals unit, Janssen, and a vaccine from Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company based in Denmark, will be tested in major risk groups, including health care workers, family members are sick and handling the bodies of those who have died from the disease.
The World Health Organization (WHO) will conduct the Phase III clinical trials in several countries by May 2015, with 250,000 vaccine doses Janssen will develop and donate for this purpose. Phase III have the purpose of final confirmation of safety and efficacy in large population groups.
Alicia Galvan, Medical and Regulatory Director at Janssen Mexico, said that the research collaboration for a monovalent vaccine targeting the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus is part of an ongoing development program for a multivalent vaccine against other virus strains that cause disease in humans, including Ebola and Marburg viruses.
According with Galvan this vaccine has a novel mechanism of action, since the Ebola virus is encapsulated in an adenovirus. “We will expose healthy people at risk to a virus that has the ability to produce antibodies, but not the disease, the mechanism acts as if we covered it a disguise,” she said.
She also explained that by introducing the Ebola virus in an adenovirus, which is very common, it enters into the body with the ability to spread widely before being destroyed, generating a large amount of antibodies.
Alicia Galvan said the objective of the multinational is to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups, who are the relatives of the patients, doctors and nurses who care them, and those responsible for the bodies of people who died from the virus. Then, once the vaccine is approved, about one million doses were produced.
Ebola epidemic has been one of the worsts in the modern world as it has killed about 5,000 people and the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global health emergency. Ebola was first identified in Guinea in March, before it spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.