NewLink Genetics has received a letter contract from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for testing and evaluating an Ebola virus vaccine.

The contract involves performing studies of the vaccine, licensed from the Public Health Agency of Canada, in a bid to move it closer to human clinical trials.

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NewLink reported that the contract is for $1m, with additional funding to be used for a investigational new drug (IND) for pre-clinical toxicology studies, as well as for the manufacture of clinical materials.

Additional funding is subject to final negotiation.

NewLink Genetics chairman and CEO Charles Link said: "This Ebola vaccine has been 100% effective in preventing lethal infection when given to non-human primates before they are infected with the virus.

"This Ebola vaccine has been 100% effective in preventing lethal infection when given to non-human primates before they are infected with the virus."

"The vaccine also acts rapidly enough to have significant efficacy even when given to animals that have recently received a typically lethal dose of Ebola virus."

NewLink Genetics president and chief medical officer Nicholas Vahanian said: "Advancing this vaccine into a human Phase I safety study is a major priority for NewLink and our partners, whose ongoing support will be critical for moving the project forward."

Speaking at the African leaders summit in Washington, US President Barack Obama was quoted by The Guardian as saying that the Ebola virus ‘can be controlled and contained with the right resources’.

The US has already partnered with European countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to combat the widespread of Ebola.

The disease has been reported to have claimed the lives of around 900 people in the Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Image: An electron micrograph of an Ebola viral particle showing the characteristic filamentous structure of a Filoviridae. Photo: courtesy of CDC/ Dr Frederick A Murphy.