Merck Partners With NewLink To Speed Up Work On Ebola Vaccine

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It’s now Goliath versus Goliath in the quest for an Ebola vaccine.

Until now, the two leading candidates for a vaccine to protect against the Ebola virus were being led by global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline on the one hand, and a tiny company in Ames, Iowa, that was virtually unknown, on the other.

Today, the David in that scenario, NewLink Genetics, said it has made a deal with drugmaker Merck, to research, develop, manufacture and distribute the experimental Ebola vaccine. That move will put the two leading Ebola vaccine programs on more equal footing.

The NewLink vaccine is a based on a harmless virus that has been genetically engineered to incorporate bits of the Ebola virus. The Canadian government developed the vaccine and then licensed it to this small biotech company. The U.S. Defense Department has provided development funding to NewLink.

Still, NewLink has struggled to keep pace with the vaccine being developed by GlaxoSmithKline. (Johnson & Johnson also has an experimental Ebola vaccine in the works, but that effort is lagging the others).

Source: NPR (link opens in a new window)

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