US to test GSK's vaccine for Ebola; Greenville lab could produce a treatment
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Research Triangle Park, N.C. — A possible vaccine to treat the spreading Ebola outbreak in Africa could be coming from GSK. Plus, a lab in Greenville could be a site where a treatment is produced.
News agencies are reporting that the U.S. government will announce today the launch of a human study in when the vaccine being developed by GlaxoSmithKline is tested. Pressure is growing on governments to speed up research efforts to combat the deadly disease.
Doctors Without Borders warned Wednesday that the tremendous influx of patients in Liberia, in particular, is overwhelming their treatment centers there.
"I wish I didn't have to say this, but it is going get worse before it gets better," Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said of the outbreak at the end of a visit to Liberia, where he described the situation as dire.
GSK, which operates its North American headquarters in RTP, confirmed the report to Reuters news service. The drug giant had previously planned to begin tests of its vaccine candidate later this year. (GSK offers a website containing its Ebola vaccine information.)
Other treatments also are under development.
There currently is no vaccine to combat Ebola, which has killed more than 1,400 people in West Africa. It's the largest outbreak of the disease to date and threatens to kill more than all previous Ebola outbreaks.
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, which is located in the Triangle, recently received a $4.1 million federal grant to continue development of its own potential Ebola vaccine.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has approved the use of three labs established in 2012 as sites that could be used to produce an Ebola vaccine if one is developed. According to Reuters, the labs were set up in 2012 by the Department of Health and Human Services along with private-sector partners to be ready to respond to produce drugs needed to counter a pandemic.
The Greenville facility is operated by DSM Pharmaceuticals.
The other plants are located in Rochester, Mich., and Alachua, Fla/. according to Reuters.
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, is expected to announce the vaccine trial today, according to Bloomberg news.
A trial is expected to last about a month.
The FDA approved the launch of the trial last week, Michael Kurilla, director of the Office of Biodefense, Research Resources and Translational Research at the NIH, told Bloomberg.
Experimental Vaccine Projects
According to the financial news website Seeking Alpha, a number of vaccines in all are under development. They are:
- Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TKMR): TKM-Ebola in Phase 1
- Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRPT): AVI-7537 in Preclinicals
- NewLink Genetics (NASDAQ: NLNK): Ebola Vaccine in Preclinicals
- BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BCRX): BCX4430 in Preclinicals
- GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK): Ebola Vaccine in Preclinicals
- Nanoviricides (NYSEMKT:NNVC): NV-INF-1 in Preclinicals
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NYSEMKT:INO) SynCon DNA Vaccine in Preclinicals
- FujiFilm (OTC:FUJIF) (OTCPK:FUJIY): Favipiravir in Preclinicals
- Mapp Pharmaceuticals: ZMapp in Preclinicals.
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