Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has received a payment of $115 million to speed development of a treatment for Ebola. The pharmaceutical giant recently announced the start of clinical trials for a new vaccine, delivered through a pair of injections. This would be the third new Ebola treatment to be tested on humans. The other two vaccines currently in clinical trials are produced by a partnership of NewLink and Merck, and GlaxoSmithKline.
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a European initiative aimed at bringing new treatments to market, sponsored the grant. Funding for IMI comes, in part, from Horizon 2020, a program managed by the European Union.
Eight projects aimed at battling Ebola were announced by IMI on January 16, 2015, created to speed development of new drugs, as well as grow manufacturing capabilities, and help ensure safety in new treatments.
"The IMI said in November it would invest 280 million euros in Ebola research, with the lion's share going to vaccines," Reuters reported.
In October 2014, Johnson & Johnson committed $200 million to development of a vaccine for the disease, and has been working to partner with other organizations since that time.
The University of Oxford, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in France will join the corporation in the new initiative.
"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. The European Commission's support through IMI bolsters collaboration that should significantly accelerate efforts to help address this humanitarian crisis," Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals for Johnson & Johnson, said.
Ebola has been recorded every few years since 1976, but the current outbreak is the most widespread and deadly occurrence ever seen. Nearly 21,300 cases have been diagnosed around the world, and more than 8,400 people have died of the disease. The vast majority of the cases and deaths have taken place in the west African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. In the nations most effected by the illness, between 57 and 60 person of the patients diagnosed with Ebola die of the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Victims include 825 healthcare workers who contracted the virus while treating patients afflicted with the disease. There have been 493 reported deaths of health professionals due to Ebola during the current outbreak.