Company working to develop Ebola vaccine

AMES, IA (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 one million dollar contract with the U.S. Department of defense.

Brian Martin of Newlink Genetics said, “Really an incredible opportunity to work on a scientific project that can have such direct and immediate impact on human health.”

Newlink Genetics in Ames has signed a contract with the U.S. Department of defense to bring the already manufactured Ebola vaccine closer to human trials.

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, Martin continued.  “You can see there’s a certain level of antibodies raised against Ebola.”

Jay Ramsey of Newlink Genetics 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 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 continued.

Newlink Genetics says they will use their one million dollar 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,” said Ramsey.  “We should fairly quickly be able to overcome any limitations on availability.”

The Newlink Genetics staff says they feel confident that they can expedite the vaccine’s’ trials to help this humanitarian crisis.

Nick Vahanian of Newlink Genetics said, “We are doing our part.  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.

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