While these dollar amounts mean little to Merck — a rounding error, given its size — the validation of NewLink’s historical and ongoing work — in preparing a production ready Ebola vaccine last year likely led to this second “validation of concept” contract. And that’s very good news for the very able scientists in Ames, Iowa (where my great uncle John used to teach graduate geology)!
The threat reduction arm of the US Department of Defense is funding a new R&D contract, to explore a multi-valent form of the Ebola vaccine. [As we’ve been steadily reporting, the mono-valent, Zaire version is already in emergency use in Africa.] The new multi-vaccine would potentially cover both the Sudan strain and the Zaire strain (and perhaps others, in the future) — hopefully all in a single shot. Do go read all the latest, over at PharmaBiz:
. . . .NewLink Genetics Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company, announced that the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) of the United States Department of Defense has awarded a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics a $2.8 million base contract with potential future options totaling $6.3 million to support the development of vaccines against filovirus species including Marburg and Ebola Sudan viruses, which could be combined with Ebola Zaire virus in a multivalent vaccine formulation or vaccination schedule.
The majority of the work in this contract will take place under an agreement with Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc. (Merck) (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada). NewLink Genetics has licensed research, development and manufacturing of its Ebola vaccine programme, including these filovirus vaccine candidates, to Merck. NewLink Genetics and Merck are continuing efforts for development of a recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Ebola Zaire (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine (V920). The rVSV-filovirus vaccine platform was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and was subsequently licensed to a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics.
“Preclinical and clinical studies with the rVSV-ZEBOV candidate suggest that the inclusion of other filoviruses in this vaccine platform can be used to develop multiple vaccines or a single multivalent formula which is our ultimate goal,” said Dr. Charles Link, CEO and chief scientific officer of NewLink Genetics. “These funds will support studies to further advance these candidates. . . .”
I would expect that this new candidate would also be granted PREP Act suit-immunity status, upon completion — given the nature of the protective work here. Now, it is just an entirely magnificent mid-day here — lunch outdoors is clearly in order. Smile. . .