Company works to develop Ebola vaccine with DOD contract - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Company works to develop Ebola vaccine with DOD contract

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An Iowa company is working to bring its Ebola vaccine to human trials. (Source: WOI-DT/CNN) An Iowa company is working to bring its Ebola vaccine to human trials. (Source: WOI-DT/CNN)

AMES, IA (WOI-DT/CNN) - As the Ebola crisis continues to ravage West Africa, one U.S. company is working to make its experimental vaccine available to humans.

NewLink Genetics in Iowa has signed a $1 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. The company, in Ames, IA, has signed a contract with the D.O.D. to bring the already manufactured Ebola vaccine closer to human trials.

“[It's] really an incredible opportunity to work on a scientific project that can have such direct and immediate impact on human health," Brian Martin of NewLink Genetics said.

The company says the newly developed vaccine has been 100 percent effective so far, when tested on non-human primates.

"We give this vaccine to monkeys. You can see there's a certain level of antibodies raised against Ebola," Martin said.

"And it's likely to be an effective one, or at least we believe so based on the non-human primate data," NewLink Genetics' Jay Ramsey said.

NewLink Genetics licensed the Ebola vaccine from the original developer, the public health agency of Canada, in 2009, and they have been slowly working on it since.

But the recent outbreak has skyrocketed the demand for a usable vaccine.

"We're, every minute of every day and some nights and weekends, we've been working on this," Ramsey said.

NewLink says they will use their $1 million federal contract to rush dosage studies and manufacture clinical materials, to make sure the vaccination will work quickly and effectively.

"We can make 30 to 50 times as much per batch as we do now,” Ramsey said. “We should fairly quickly be able to overcome any limitations on availability."

The company's staff said they feel confident that they can expedite the vaccine's trial to help this humanitarian crisis.

"We are doing our part,”Nickh Vahanian of NewLink said. “Our job is to make our science and technology available and to work with all ethical and clinical manufacturing standards to make sure the drug gets to where it's needed."

NewLink Genetics says the first human clinical studies for their Ebola vaccine could be conducted next year.

Copyright 2014 WOI-DT via CNN. All rights reserved.

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