Merck enters the Ebola Vaccine Race in NewLink Partnership

Merck obtains the rights to NewLink genetics’ experimental Ebola Vaccine, putting pressure on GSK

Merck has struck a agreement with NewLink Genetics to licence their investigational Ebola vaccine, rVSV-EBOV. The $50 million agreement gives Merck exclusive rights to develop, manufacture, and distribute the vaccine across the world.

This partnership should allow NewLink to keep pace with the huge effort by GlaxoSmithKline and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to developer their Ebola vaccine candidate.

rVSV-EBOV, originally being developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), is currently in currently in phase I trials at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the NIAID. Additional pase I studies are also planned in Switzerland, Geremany, Kenya, and Gabon.

The vaccine was initially licensed by NewLink from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), who will retain non-commercial rights under this new agreement. The vaccine is based upon an attenuated strain of vesicular stomatitis, the virus has been modified to express an Ebola virus protein critical to the spread of the infection.┬áThe National Institue of Health (NIH) has set out plans for a large randomized, controlled phase III study to evaluate the efficacy of rVSV-BOv as well as GSK’s vaccine.

“This vaccine is the result of years of hard work and innovation by Canadian scientists. We are pleased that this new alliance coupled with the clinical trials currently underway will further strengthen the possibility that the vaccine will make a difference in the global response to the Ebola outbreak,” said Canada’s Minister of Health, Rona Ambros.

Find the press release here.

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