The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has announced a $19 million investment in a collaborative initiative aimed at advancing the development and manufacture of a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
The investment includes $14.6 million for the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. in support of a phase 2 batch and preparation for the stockpiling of a MERS-CoV vaccine candidate. With funding from the UK Department of Health and Social Care, Oxford has begun clinical development of the vaccine, and a phase 1 clinical trial of the vaccine is under way in the UK. Depending on the results of the trial, CEPI will have the option to provide additional funding for a phase 2 trial and the manufacture of an investigational vaccine stockpile that would be available for use in the event of an outbreak.
According to the company, Janssen's vaccine-manufacturing platform enables rapid and efficient production of large volumes of vaccines. Should CEPI opt to provide support for further clinical development, Oxford will undertake phase 2 testing of the vaccine in partnership with the King Abdullah International Medical Research Centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute – Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya.
In addition, CEPI will provide up to $2.1 million in support of preclinical development of a Lassa vaccine and up to $2 million in support of preclinical development of a Nipah vaccine.
First identified in 2012, MERS-CoV is carried by camels and spread by droplet infection of the airways. Infection can lead to fever and a cough that can progress to severe pneumonia. Approximately 35 percent of reported patients with MERS-CoV have died. No vaccine against the disease is currently available.
"CEPI's collaboration with the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V. represents exactly what our coalition was set up to do: to drive development of vaccines to protect humanity against threats posed by emerging infectious diseases and to bring together the expertise of academia and the public and private sectors," said CEPI chief executive Richard Hatchett. "Both the Jenner Institute and Janssen Vaccines were involved in the clinical development of vaccines against Ebola during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and we hope to benefit from their extensive experience in developing vaccines against emerging infectious diseases."