CSU wins US$2M Pentagon contract to develop Ebola vaccine
Colorado State University (CSU) in the United States (US) has been awarded US$2 million by the US Department of Defense to begin developing and manufacturing an Ebola vaccine, officials said on Monday.
The university's Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center, started in 2006, was selected in July to help the defense department's research in creating a vaccine for use in human clinical trials, said Dennis Pierro, a professor and director of the biopharmaceutical resource center.
The university received the funding through the Pentagon's Medical Countermeasures Systems Joint Vaccine Acquisition programme, according to a university news release.
The programme develops and obtains vaccines to protect soldiers from biological warfare agents, the release said.
"The reason why CSU was chosen as the best place to carry this out is because of the infectious-disease infrastructure we have, plus the investment BioMARC has made in infectious-disease research," Pierro said. "We have been inspected by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and passed, so that sets us apart from other universities or facilities."
Pierro also cited the university's ability to support "a novel technology" that allows the facility to create a safe vaccine without bringing a live virus on the property.
"The Ebola virus is not going to be here. Patients with Ebola are not going to be here. We absolutely don't need it because of this technology. All we need is one protein," Pierro said.
Pierro said it can take 10 to 15 years for a vaccine to be approved for use by the FDA, but his staff will aim to begin manufacturing the vaccines by the end of the year.
"While the primary purpose of the Ebola vaccine under this contract would be to protect US soldiers, it is possible that such a vaccine could be used for endemic outbreaks," Pierro said.