| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 27 U.S. health officials will
announce on Thursday that a human study of an Ebola vaccine made
by GlaxoSmithKline will begin within a couple of weeks
and not later this year as the company estimated originally,
according to people familiar with the plans.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will make the
announcement as part of a previously scheduled briefing for
reporters, the sources said.
In addition, a steering committee made up of senior
officials from NIH and the Department of Defense last week
approved the first step toward using three advanced laboratories
to manufacture Ebola vaccines and treatments, a person familiar
with the planning told Reuters.
The three labs, in Texas, Maryland and North Carolina, were
set up in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services (HHS) in partnership with private industry to respond
to pandemics or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear
A feasibility analysis would determine which of the three
labs, called Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and
Manufacturing (CIADM), have the capabilities to produce Ebola
products including a special cocktail of antibodies like the
experimental therapy from Mapp Biopharmaceutical that has been
used in a few cases.
HHS is also engaging with a special network established last
September to see if any of four contract pharmaceutical
manufacturers have the capacity to support production of Ebola
vaccines or therapies, the source said.
Called the "Fill Finish Manufacturing Network," it
complements the CIADMs and comprises Cook Pharmica in
Bloomington, Indiana; DSM Pharmaceuticals in Greenville, North
Carolina; JHP Pharmaceuticals in Rochester, Michigan; and
Nanotherapeutics in Alachua, Florida.
The trials being announced on Thursday would enroll healthy
volunteers in the United States with the goal of determining
whether the vaccine is safe and whether it provokes a protective
The GSK vaccine consists of a common cold virus, called an
adenovirus, that has been engineered to carry two genes of the
Ebola virus. Animal testing has shown that when the adenovirus
infects cells the Ebola genes produce harmless proteins that
stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to Ebola.
A GSK spokeswoman confirmed that the trial would begin but
declined to specify when.
There has been growing international pressure to accelerate
the testing and production of experimental vaccines and
treatments as the Ebola death toll in West Africa tops 1,400,
making it the worst such outbreak on record.
(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Sonya