Merck, Iowa firm sign Ebola vaccine licensing deal - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Merck, Iowa firm sign Ebola vaccine licensing deal

Posted: Updated:
 (AP)

Merck & Co., a top creator and seller of vaccines, has joined the fight against Ebola, the often-fatal hemorrhagic virus that's been ravaging parts of West Africa for months.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, said Monday it has entered a global partnership with a small U.S. drug developer to research and manufacture a potential Ebola vaccine now in initial patient testing.

The exclusive deal involves rVSV-EBOV, a vaccine candidate under early development by BioProtection Systems, the vaccine-development subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corp. of Ames, Iowa.

It was created in labs of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which in 2010 signed a deal giving BioProtection Systems an exclusive license for the vaccine and the technology for producing it.

NewLink's vaccine is in the first phase of human testing, a study run by the U.S. National Institutes Of Health in healthy volunteers. It's meant to determine whether it stimulates their immune system to make antibodies against Ebola, and to spot any safety problems and help determine the best dosage. Other early-phase studies are to begin shortly in other countries.

Dr. Mark Feinberg, chief public health and science officer for Merck's vaccines division, said that the vaccine was shown to be very effective in preventing infections in nonhuman primates exposed to Ebola.

Early next year, he said, the NIH and multiple public health and corporate partners are to begin late-stage testing of rVSV-EBOV, plus a second Ebola vaccine jointly developed by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Merck & Co., a top creator and seller of vaccines, has joined the fight against Ebola, the often-fatal hemorrhagic virus that's been ravaging parts of West Africa for months.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, said Monday it has entered a global partnership with a small U.S. drug developer to research and manufacture a potential Ebola vaccine now in initial patient testing.

The exclusive deal involves rVSV-EBOV, a vaccine candidate under early development by BioProtection Systems, the vaccine-development subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corp. of Ames, Iowa.

It was created in labs of the Public Health Agency of Canada, which in 2010 signed a deal giving BioProtection Systems an exclusive license for the vaccine and the technology for producing it.

NewLink's vaccine is in the first phase of human testing, a study run by the U.S. National Institutes Of Health in healthy volunteers. It's meant to determine whether it stimulates their immune system to make antibodies against Ebola, and to spot any safety problems and help determine the best dosage. Other early-phase studies are to begin shortly in other countries.

Dr. Mark Feinberg, chief public health and science officer for Merck's vaccines division, said that the vaccine was shown to be very effective in preventing infections in nonhuman primates exposed to Ebola.

Early next year, he said, the NIH and multiple public health and corporate partners are to begin late-stage testing of rVSV-EBOV, plus a second Ebola vaccine jointly developed by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

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