Bavarian Nordic wins up to $33m to develop J&J Ebola vaccine

By Fiona BARRY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ebola vaccine, Smallpox

Bavarian Nordic's headquarters in Kvistgaard, Denmark
Bavarian Nordic's headquarters in Kvistgaard, Denmark
Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic has signed a $9m contract from Johnson & Johnson to improve stability of their joint Ebola vaccine. After options and milestone awards, payment could total $33m.

The subcontract from Janssen company Crucell Holland will support development of the Ebola prime-boost vaccine regimen made up of Bavarian Nordic’s MVA-BN Filo and Janssen’s Ad26.ZEBOV.

Bavarian Nordic will work on improving stability and storage conditions for its own vaccine.

This contract follows an ongoing deal with J&J to manufacture two million doses of Ebola vaccine for clinical trials. So far, Bavarian Nordic has produced 1.3 million.

Manufacturing

Bavarian Nordic’s MVA-BN Filo is produced the same way as Merck/NewLink​ and GSK’s Ebola vaccines,​ said Rolf Sass Sørensen, vice president of investor relations at Bavarian Nordic.

Ours is based on MVA vector – Modified Vaccinia Ankara – which is our version of a third generation smallpox vaccine,​” he told this site.

We have for years produced a smallpox vaccine and sold it to governments around the world for stockpiling, especially to the US. That smallpox vaccine is based on an MVA vector – a modification of the old vaccinia strain, which we also use in our ebola vaccine.​”

The MVA-BN Filo vaccine is made in chicken eggs, which Sørensen denied slows the process more than cell line production.

We have very high speed and very high yields in our production of the Ebola vaccine. We have had  contracts with the US government since 2003, and in the last decade we have optimised production and produced millions of smallpox vaccines. So speed and volume is not a problem​.”

The deal is part of a contract awarded to Janssen by the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to help fund the prime-boost vaccine.

The combination Bavarian Nordic-Janssen vaccine will soon begin recruitment for a quasi-Phase III trial which will evaluate safety and immunogenicity in Sierra Leone​ but because of current low numbers of new diagnoses, will not be a full field study.

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