J&J gets $116M to help hustle along new Ebola vaccine

Ebolavirus under an electron microscope--Courtesy of CDC

Just days after Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) began a Phase I study of its new Ebola vaccine the pharma giant has organized an alliance to help accelerate its work and picked up a $116 million-plus grant to add to its $200 million commitment to get the job done as quickly as possible.

J&J sub Janssen has signed up a research consortium that now includes the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford, Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale, La Centre Muraz, Bavarian Nordic A/S, Vibalogics, Grameen Foundation and World Vision of Ireland. The European Commission's Innovative Medicines Initiative, or IMI, plans to back the group with grants totaling more than €100 million to finance development, manufacturing and patient education.

Janssen started work on the Phase I January 6. To get it through trials as fast as possible, J&J and Bavarian Nordic are producing up to 400,000 jabs through April and expect to be able to deliver 2 million regimens through 2015.

"It is great to see the multiple partners come together to accelerate the development of an effective vaccine both for the current epidemic and future outbreaks," said Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. "This is an opportunity to make sure that this is the last Ebola epidemic in which our only tools to control it are isolation and quarantine."

The IMI's grant came in response to J&J's request for some financial assistance to ramp up its work on the vaccine, one of several now in development as the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa continues to kill people in several countries.

- here's the release