Novavax Ebola vaccine will initiate first phase of clinical trials

A vaccine against the Ebola virus from Novavax, Inc. will begin the first phase of clinical trials, the company announced Feb 12.

The study will be conducted in Australia. In this phase the overall safety and the vaccine's ability to facilitate an antibody response will be evaluated. Two-hundred-thirty healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 50 will be given two intramuscular injections.

"In less than five months, Novavax has validated its Ebola GP Vaccine with compelling animal data, including complete protection against a lethal Ebola challenge in non-human primates, leading to the initiation of this Phase 1 clinical trial." Novavax CEO and President Stanley Erck said. "With our ongoing efforts to develop our vaccine against the A/H7N9 influenza strain, this is the second novel strain of an emerging virus with pandemic potential, for which Novavax has been able to construct and produce a vaccine, subsequently demonstrate immunogenicity in one or more relevant animal models, and initiate a clinical trial."

The development of this vaccine was encouraged by the publication of the genomic structure of the Ebola Makona strain in 2014, it was once known as the 2014 Ebola Guinea strain.

"The strong immune responses observed in our animal immunogenicity models and the protection observed in the non-human primate challenge models, confirm that our Ebola GP Vaccine is an important candidate for consideration. The use of a sequence reflecting the current circulating Makona strain of Ebola virus, along with the observed dose-sparing and enhanced antibody quality by the addition of our Matrix-M adjuvant, compelled the company to move to clinical testing," said Dr. Gregory Glenn, Novavax senior vice president, Research and Development.

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