Johnson & Johnson said more than €100 million (about $115 million) in grants from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) will support several consortia the company has formed with global research institutions and non-government organizations (NGOs) to develop an Ebola vaccine regimen.

The consortia will work with J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. to speed up development of an Ebola vaccine regimen. The IMI is awarding the grant funding from its Ebola+ program toward development, manufacturing, and patient education for the vaccine regimen.

“In the face of the global challenge of Ebola, bringing together the expertise and capabilities of the pharmaceutical industry, academic centers and NGOs will be critical to help solve this crisis,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., J&J's CSO and worldwide chairman, pharmaceuticals.

Organizations joining Janssen include the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), La Centre Muraz, Bavarian Nordic A/S, Vibalogics, Grameen Foundation and World Vision of Ireland.

The IMI funds are designed to support several consortia working together on a total of four projects. Three of the projects are designed to address the need to accelerate Phase I, II and III trials and scale up production of the prime-boost vaccine regimen.

On January 6, Johnson & Johnson disclosed the start of a Phase l trial of a preventive Ebola vaccine in development at Janssen. The trial is being led by the Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics.

Johnson & Johnson also announced that Janssen, along with partner Bavarian Nordic, has produced more than 400,000 regimens of the prime-boost vaccine for use in large-scale clinical trials by April 2015. A total of 2 million regimens is projected to be available through 2015, with the ability to quickly scale up to a projected 5 million regimens over 12 to 18 months if needed.

According to J&J, Phase II and III trials of the vaccine regimen in Europe and Africa—which are subject to review of the preliminary Phase I data—are being planned, and will be carried out in parallel. A fourth project will investigate raising awareness and acceptance of vaccination campaigns through “innovative ways” as well as technology, the company added.

A total of eight projects are being funded under the current round of the IMI’s Ebola+ program. Funding for the IMI Ebola+ comes from the IMI 2 Joint Undertaking initiative, supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, as well as by in-kind contributions from partners affiliated with the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

“The initial testing of vaccines for Ebola is already underway at the University with an astonishing response from the public to volunteer for the trials,” stated Professor Andrew Pollard, FRCPCH Ph.D., and Matthew Snape, MBBS M.D., leaders of the Phase I and II Ebola vaccine trials at the University of Oxford for IMI.

J&J committed $200 million in October 2014  toward speeding up and expanding production of the Ebola vaccine program being developed at Janssen. The prime-boost regimen—discovered through collaborative research with the NIH—combines J&J vaccine components including AdVac® technology from Crucell Holland, part of Janssen, and Bavarian Nordic’s MVA-BN® Filovirus vaccine candidate.

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