RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is stopping research into vaccines to treat Ebola and is turning over related projects to the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

The institute, which is based in Washington, D.C., numbers the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation among its backers.

GSK’s move comes as Ebola continues to be a threat to life in Africa. The agreement covers possible vaccines Ebola Zaire and Ebola Sudan as well as the Marburg virus. GSK also noted that there are no “licensed vaccines against these three viruses are currently available.”

“All three cause hemorrhagic fever with subsequent death in an average of 50 percent of cases,” GSK noted.

Other work to fight Ebola continues as well.

News site FireceBiotech pointed out that the GSK-Sabin “agreement coincides with the news that Uganda has begun testing a Johnson & Johnson Ebola vaccine.”

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“These agreements with the Sabin Vaccine Institute are an important next step in the fight against Ebola and Marburg viruses,” said Thomas Breuer, Chief Medical Officer of GSK Vaccines, in a statement.

“Enabling Sabin to build on the scientific progress GSK has delivered up to Phase II increases the likelihood these candidate vaccines may help prevent potential future outbreaks, and exemplifies GSK’s approach to global health vaccines which supports partners in taking forward our innovations in a sustainable way. I am proud of the work that our world-leading vaccines scientists at GSK have contributed so far to the development of these vaccine candidates, including the Ebola Zaire candidate vaccine which has demonstrated encouraging results in studies to date.”

GSK told Reuters that there is no financial agreement included in the transaction.

“Under the agreements between GSK and Sabin, Sabin has exclusively licensed the technology for all three candidate vaccines and acquired certain patent rights specific to these vaccines,” GSK explained.

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Sabin also has signed a research collaboration agreement with the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

GSK maintains operations in RTP and Zebulon.