NIH Grant Helps Get New York Bioscience Company into Ebola Vaccine Hunt

With the help of a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Profectus Biosciences Inc. of Tarrytown, NY, is looking to became one of the key players as medical science looks for a way to prevent future outbreaks of the Ebola Virus.

With the help of a grant from the National Institutes of Health, Profectus Biosciences Inc. of Tarrytown, NY, is looking to became one of the key players as medical science looks for a way to prevent future outbreaks of the Ebola Virus.

Profectus, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center were awarded a $26 million grant in March “to advance treatments of the highly lethal hemorrhagic fever viruses Ebola and Marburg,” according to a press release posted on the company’s website.

With no vaccines or treatments approved to treat Ebola, and the experimental medication ZMapp making news after being administered to a handful of patients before being tested on humans, the work of these groups figures to play prominently in future treatments of the deadly condition.

John Eldridge, the company’s chief science officer, said the grant was a big step in making progress toward an Ebola vaccine.

“We look forward to combining our vaccines with both Tekmira’s therapeutics and the antibodies developed at Vanderbilt,” he said. “Ebola and Marburg are both highly pathogenic, rapidly progressing infections with narrow windows for intervention. We are confident a combined approach will be more successful for treating these infections.”

The grant was awarded prior to the recent outbreak, and since that time Eldridge said the work has become even more vital.

“For years, we’ve told the government you need to invest a little bit of money in this,” he told Reuters. “And now, it’s ‘Oh my God, how fast can you make this.”

Eldridge said that, as with all Ebola drugs currently in development, his company’s vaccine had not yet been tested in humans, adding that it showed promise in monkey trials. The story noted that during those trials “a single intramuscular injection protected all of the rhesus monkeys exposed to Ebola 3 weeks later.”

Eldridge said he believed human trials of the vaccine could start within the next year.