Singapore, 1 November 2022: Hilleman Laboratories, today announced a collaboration with MSD (tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, N.J., USA (NYSE: MRK)) to develop a thermostable second-generation Zaire ebolavirus vaccine candidate building on MSD’s approved Zaire ebolavirus vaccine, ERVEBO.®1
The collaboration will research and develop a production process to increase manufacturing capacity and a stable formulation that could be stored at between 2 to 8°C – temperatures that can be maintained by consumer-grade refrigerators. Storing, transporting, and distributing the vaccines without the need for advanced cooling systems may broaden access in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where the burden of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is greatest. The collaboration also aims to develop a multi-dose presentation to help facilitate community vaccination programs.
“Ebola virus disease is challenging to contain as outbreaks are difficult to predict and prevent. The African continent has seen occasional outbreaks in past years and the most recent outbreak in Uganda highlights the need for continued innovation and vaccines that protect against specific ebolavirus strains. We look forward to working closely with MSD with the goal of accelerating broad access to the second-generation Zaire ebolavirus vaccine and helping to improve vaccine coverage for populations in LMICs,” said Dr. Raman Rao, Chief Executive Officer, Hilleman Laboratories.
“Our company is enormously proud of the work we have done thus far in developing and producing the first approved Ebola vaccine that, in collaboration with global partners and stakeholders, has been deployed in response to outbreaks since 2018,” said Dr. Paula Annunziato, Vice President, MSD Vaccine Clinical Research. “We’re excited to build on this work and collaborate with Hilleman Laboratories to support the development of a more thermostable vaccine that may be more easily stored and distributed.”
Ebola virus disease is a rare and deadly disease that is prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has a death rate that ranges from 25% to 90%2 in past outbreaks. The ERVEBO® vaccine has been used in Ebola outbreak preparedness and response efforts against the Zaire ebolavirus.3 Vaccines for Sudan ebolavirus, which is responsible for the current outbreak in Uganda, are still in clinical trials4.
1 ERVEBO is a trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme LLC, Rahway, New Jersey, USA
2 Retrieved 14 October 2022, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/ebola-virus-disease
3 Ebola vaccine: Information about ERVEBO® (2022) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/clinicians/vaccine/index.html (Accessed: October 31, 2022).
4 Ebola outbreak in Uganda: how worried are researchers. (2022). https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-03192-8
Hilleman Laboratories was established in 2009 as a joint venture between Merck Sharp & Dohme LLC (MSD), a global research-driven pharmaceutical company and Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to human and animal health. Hilleman Laboratories' mission is to develop affordable vaccines and biologics against infectious diseases that affect low- and middle-income countries.
The company's expertise in end-to-end product development is targeted at creating novel vaccines and biologics in areas of high unmet need as well as adapting existing vaccines and biologics with more effective delivery tools to meet challenging environments in developing countries. Hilleman Laboratories also seeks to collaborate with local, regional, and global partners and stakeholders, including policymakers and governments, to facilitate wider, affordable access to life-saving vaccines and biologics.
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