GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and three leading research institutions have formed a new European consortium to help further advance development of a candidate vaccine against Ebola.
The Ebola vaccine candidate is being jointly developed by GSK and US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Supported with €15.1m funding from European Commission (EC), the consortium includes GSK and research partners from University of Oxford, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne and the Bernhard-Nocht Institute.
GSK Vaccines chairman Dr Moncef Slaoui said: "We welcome the generous support from the European Commission and appreciate how quickly they have worked to secure the research grant for our work.
"These partnerships are essential to accelerate development of the vaccine candidate in response to the Ebola outbreak we are seeing in West Africa."
Funding is being provided through European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation, as part of the Horizon 2020 programme supporting research into treatments and vaccines for Ebola.
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According to GSK, the consortium is also expected to receive an additional €1.4m from the Swiss Government.
Funding is being used to carry out an ongoing trial of an Ebola candidate vaccine in 120 healthy adult volunteers in Switzerland.
The EC funding will allow the consortium to begin larger Phase II trials in Africa that could start as early as January 2015, if safety and immunogenicity data from the trial and other ongoing Phase I trials are encouraging.
Studies will assess the safety and ability of the GSK / NIH vaccine candidate to create an immune response against Ebola in adults and children, and will be conducted at established clinical study centres in West Africa.
If early stage booster trials underway at University of Oxford are successful, it is anticipated that they will also investigate the effect of booster vaccination.
GSK is also working with World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders to prepare for efficacy trials in Ebola affected countries including Sierra Leone and Liberia, if Phase I trials are successful.
Image: Ebola virus virion. Photo: courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Cynthia Goldsmith.