GSK offloads Ebola vaccines as testing of J&J shot ramps up

Ebola virus
An Ebola virus. (CDC Global/CC BY 2.0)

GlaxoSmithKline has licensed Ebola vaccines to the Sabin Vaccine Institute. The agreement coincides with the news that Uganda has begun testing a Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine. 

GSK picked up the rights to vaccines against Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan in its 2013 acquisition of Okairos, which developed the candidates in collaboration with the U.S. National Institutes of Health. GSK put the Ebola Zaire vaccine through two phase 2 trials but has now decided to hand it, the Ebola Sudan vaccine and a shot against the closely related Marburg virus off to Sabin.

To advance the vaccines, Sabin has formed a pact with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’s (NIAID) Vaccine Research Center. The partners plan to add to the body of evidence accrued on the vaccines to date, which includes the results from a third Ebola Zaire phase 2 run by a NIAID partnership. 

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“Sabin plans to continue the development and seek regulatory approval of Ebola and Marburg vaccines with our shared goal of making them available to the millions of people potentially at risk,” Sabin CEO Amy Finan said in a statement.

News of the licensing deal comes shortly after Reuters reported on the progress of a two-dose vaccination regimen of Ad26.ZEBOV and MVA-BN-Filo. Uganda recently initiated a two-year, 800-person trial of the vaccines. The clinical trial is taking place against a backdrop of fears that the Ebola outbreak will spread into Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ad26.ZEBOV, which J&J acquired in its takeover of Crucell, is designed to provide protection against Ebola Zaire. MVA-BN-Filo, a multivalent vaccine developed by Bavarian Nordic, is designed to protect against Ebola and Marburg. In an earlier study, giving the vaccines in a prime-boost regimen showed promise, leading J&J and Bavarian Nordic to form a global license and supply agreement.

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