Vaccine is currently being evaluated in Phase 1 clinical trials
Merck and NewLink Genetics have entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement to develop and distribute NewLink's experimental rVSV-EBOV (Ebola) vaccine candidate, which was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
The investigational vaccine is currently being evaluated in Phase I clinical trials and pending the results the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will initiate, early next year, a large randomised, controlled Phase III study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of both rVSV-EBOV and another investigational Ebola vaccine co-developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and GlaxoSmithKline.
Charles Link, NewLink Genetics' Chairman and Chief Executive said: 'Merck's vaccine development expertise, commercial leadership and history of successful strategic alliances make it an ideal partner to expedite the development of rVSV-EBOV and, if demonstrated to be efficacious and well-tolerated, to make it available to individuals and communities at risk of Ebola virus infection around the world.'
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will be granted the exclusive rights to the rVSV-EBOV vaccine candidate as well as any follow-on products.
The vaccine candidate is under an exclusive licensing arrangement with a wholly-owned subsidiary of NewLink Genetics. Under these licensing arrangements, the PHAC retains non-commercial rights to the vaccine candidate.
No financial details of the agreement have been revealed.
Phase I clinical trials of the rVSV-EBOV vaccine are underway at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the NIAID at the NIH. Additional Phase I studies are underway or planned to begin in the near future at clinical research centres in Switzerland, Germany, Kenya, and Gabon in a World Health Organization-coordinated effort, and in Canada by the Canadian Immunization Research Network.