Merck injects new interest into Ebola vaccines

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One could be forgiven for thinking that biopharma had given up on developing an Ebola vaccine following resolution of the big West Africa outbreak in 2014. But news that Merck & Co has begun the registration process for its candidate, V920, shows there is still interest in the deadly infection. And Merck is not the only big pharma with a horse in this race: data on a project from Johnson & Johnson and Bavarian Nordic should emerge next year. Meanwhile, Glaxosmithkline reportedly put its candidate, cAd3-EBO Z, on hold earlier this year, but has said it is monitoring the situation. Ebola outbreaks continue to occur – one, currently ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, could last until mid-2019, the WHO said yesterday. While an effective vaccine could save lives, such products are unlikely to make a profit. But some see a different way to cash in on these assets: Newlink, which is partnered with Merck, could receive up to $40m for its share of a priority review voucher, Stifel analysts noted. After the failure of IDO inhibition, Newlink could do with the money.

Selected Ebola vaccines in active clinical development
Project Company Clinical trial(s) Primary completion
Filing begun
V920 Merck & Co NCT02503202 Completed
Phase III
Monovalent Ebola Vaccine Johnson & Johnson/Bavarian Nordic NCT02509494 Aug 2019
Phase I
INO-4201 Inovio Pharmaceuticals NCT02464670 May 2018
EBOV GP Vaccine Novavax NCT03462004* Oct 2019
*Sponsored by the NIAID. Source: EvaluatePharma, Clinicaltrials.gov.

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