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Novel Vaccine for Ebola & other Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses


A collaboration among research institutions, private industry, and the US Government will develop a tetravalent vaccine to protect against four viruses that can be fatal.

(PHILADELPHIA) – Thomas Jefferson University has received a contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to prepare and test a vaccine formulation designed to protect against the Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, and Lassa fever viruses. If successful, this would be the first vaccine to induce protection against four hemorrhagic fever viruses, which can damage blood vessels, cause internal bleeding and result in high mortality rates, as seen in the West African Ebola outbreak. NIAID has made an initial award of about $2.6 million to Thomas Jefferson University with further funding of up to a total of $30 million available over the course of the contract if all contract options are exercised.

“Our approach is to create a broad scope of coverage with a tetravalent vaccine—one that covers four of these deadly viral diseases., says Principal Investigator Matthias Schnell, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the Jefferson Vaccine Center at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.

The tetravalent vaccine would have the added advantage of protecting against the deadly rabies virus. Since the vaccine will be an inactivated, or killed, virus formulation, it cannot cause infection and has the potential to be safe for all populations, including immune-compromised individuals, pregnant women and young children.

Dr. Schnell, who is also the Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Neurovirology, will lead the project team, composed of experts in the field of vaccine development and testing.  “A project of this size can benefit significantly from a broad range of vaccine expertise, resulting in the timely development, formulation, testing, and manufacturing of a new and novel vaccine product,” says Dr. Schnell. 

The project team is composed of representatives from  IDT Biologika GmbH, to develop the manufacturing process, and manufacture the vaccine; the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) and Immune Design, to develop the adjuvant component that will boost the vaccine’s potency;  Exxell BIO, Inc., to assist in the clinical trial strategy and testing; and the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), together with The Geneva Foundation, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the completed vaccine prior to human use.

This five-year contract, with the goal of completing a Phase 1 clinical trial of the tetravalent vaccine, will be funded by NIAID under Contract No. HHSN272201700082C. 

Media Contact:
Edyta Zielinska