The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, this week announced a new license agreement aimed at advancing dual-purpose candidate vaccines to protect against rabies and Ebola viruses.
The vaccines were created by scientists at NIAID and Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) in Philadelphia and are being further developed through a partnership with the German pharmaceutical company IDT Biologika. The candidate vaccines now have been licensed to Exxell BIO of Saint Paul, Minnesota, which aims to advance the products through clinical testing and commercialization.
The experimental vaccines—based on rabies virus vaccines currently used in people and in animals—contain either a killed or a live, attenuated (weakened) rabies virus engineered to produce an Ebola protein.
The inactivated, vaccine is being developed to prevent rabies and Ebola infection in people, while the live, attenuated vaccine is intended for use in African wildlife to help prevent Ebola virus transmission from animals to people.
Studies conducted by NIAID and TJU researchers have shown that the vaccines are safe and induce rabies- and Ebola-specific immune responses in monkeys. The vaccines also protected the monkeys from infection with the Zaire strain of Ebola, which currently is spreading among people in West Africa.
To date, the 2014 Ebola outbreak has caused approximately 8,400 illnesses, including more than 4,000 deaths.
In partnership with TJU, IDT Biologika and Exxell BIO, NIAID researchers plan to use the licensed technology to develop rabies-based vaccines to protect at-risk populations from the Zaire and Sudan strains of Ebola virus and the closely related Marburg virus.
Source: NIH press release, adapted.