NewLink Genetics subsidiary awarded $30 million contract for Ebola vaccine

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $30 million contract to BioProtection Systems for the manufacturing and development of the investigational rVSV-EBOV Ebola vaccine.

BioProtection Systems is a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics, which is developing the vaccine along with Merck.

The rVSV-EBOV vaccine is currently being tested on humans in Phase I clinical studies. If those studies are successful, the U.S. National Insititutes of Health plans on beginning Phase II and III studies of the vaccine in early 2015. 

While the Ebola vaccine candidate was initially created by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it is now being developed in collaboration between two health companies -- something that is becoming a trend, according to Merck Vaccines' Chief Public Health and Science Officer Mark Feinberg.

"Governments and industry are effectively collaborating in an unprecedented effort to accelerate the development of Ebola vaccine candidates," Feinberg said. "If we can bring an efficacious and well-tolerated vaccine to the outbreak countries, we will not only help protect people at risk in the current crisis, but also may help reduce the likelihood of such tragic events in the future."

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