GSK has transferred the rights to three experimental vaccines against the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses to the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a nonprofit vaccine advocacy and development group, saying it gives them a better chance to one day be used to protect people.
The Ebola vaccine candidates are being developed to protect against two species of the virus, Sudan and Zaire.
“The best contribution GSK can make to global health is to focus our science where we have particular expertise, and to form strong partnerships with organizations with complementary expertise to deliver innovations sustainably to people who can benefit from them,” Evan Berland, director of United States corporate communications at GSK, told Infectious Disease News. “As such, we are convinced that transferring our Ebola [and] Marburg candidate vaccines to the renowned Sabin Vaccine Institute increases the likelihood that this technology can be further developed to help prevent future outbreaks.”
Although no licensed vaccines are currently available for these viruses, Merck’s experimental Ebola vaccine, V920, has been used to immunize more than 180,000 people in the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is being caused by the Zaire species. Early findings from the outbreak indicate that the vaccine has been 97% effective.
According to Berland, Sabin is “uniquely positioned” to progress the candidate Ebola and Marburg vaccines because of its strategy to focus on vaccines that may not have much commercial value but target diseases that primarily impact the world’s most vulnerable populations. Berland said the institute has “significant capacity to mobilize resources and a network of experts to build successful partnerships to progress candidate vaccines for global health purposes.”
The candidate vaccines are based on GSK’s proprietary ChAd3 platform. They were initially developed by the NIH and Okairos, a vaccine platform developer that was acquired by GSK in 2013. GSK developed them further, including taking the Ebola Zaire vaccine into phase 2 development.
According to a news release, the ChAd3-based vaccines have demonstrated a strong safety profile and encouraging immunogenicity results. They have been administered to more than 5,000 adults and 600 children in 13 different clinical trials.
Sabin entered into a research collaboration agreement with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to further develop vaccines, according to the release.
“Sabin appreciates GSK’s years of work to advance the ChAd3 Ebola program and the productive partnership the two organizations have established,” Sabin CEO Amy Finan said in the release. “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.” – by Joe Gramigna
Sabin Vaccine Institute. GSK grants exclusive technology license for clinical-stage Ebola vaccines to Sabin Vaccine Institute. https://www.sabin.org/updates/pressreleases/gsk-grants-exclusive-technology-license-clinical-stage-ebola-vaccines-sabin. Accessed August 6, 2019.
WHO. Ebola virus disease fact sheet. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease. Accessed August 6, 2019.
Disclosures: Berland is employed by GSK. Finan is employed by Sabin.