News Scan for Sep 28, 2018

Funds for MERS, Lassa, Nipah vaccines
New polio cases
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CEPI announces partnership to support MERS, Lassa, Nipah vaccines

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) yesterday announced that it has awarded a contract worth as much as $19 million to Oxford University and Janssen Vaccines to advance the development and manufacture of a vaccine against MERS-CoV and do preclinical studies of new vaccines against Lassa and Nipah viruses.

In its statement, CEPI said Oxford has already been working on the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) vaccine, and a phase 1 clinical trial is under way in the United Kingdom. Under the terms of the collaboration, Oxford and Janssen Vaccines, part of Johnson & Johnson, will receive $14.6 million from CEPI to cover manufacturing of a phase 2 trial batch and preparations needed for stockpiling the MERS-CoV vaccine. Janssen's proprietary vaccine manufacturing platform would be used to rapidly scale up production.

Depending on phase 1 findings, CEPI would have an option to provide additional investment for the phase 2 trial and the production of an investigational vaccine stockpile for use in an outbreak setting. If CEPI exercises the option, Oxford would conduct the phase 2 trial in partnership with King Abdullah International Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya Medical Research Institute-Wellcome Trust Research Program in Kilifi, Kenya.

Also, the collaboration would provide up to $2.1 million in funding for preclinical Lassa vaccine development and up to $2 million for preclinical Nipah vaccine development.

Sarah Gilbert, PhD, professor of vaccinology with Oxford's Jenner Institute, said in the statement that all three vaccines use simian adenoviral vaccine vector ChAdOx1. "The clinical safety of the viral vector platform and ability to induce potent immune responses have already been demonstrated, and we look forward to working with Janssen on the important next stages of the development of all three vaccines, using our complementary expertise in this important new initiative," she said.

Vaccitech, a spin-off of Oxford University, holds the rights to the MERS-CoV vaccine but has granted the university certain rights that pave the way for the vaccine to be developed for nonprofit public health use.

CEPI, launched in 2017, was founded to streamline and fund vaccine candidates targeting the three diseases. The group is supported by the governments of Norway, Germany, India, and Japan; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Wellcome Trust; and the World Economic Forum.
Sep 27 CEPI statement


GPEI reports 10 more polio cases in 4 countries

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) reported a slew of new polio illnesses this week, with Nigeria, Niger, Somalia, and Papua New Guinea all recording cases of circulating vaccine-derived polio.

In Nigeria, three circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) cases were recorded in Katsina and Borno states, linked to the cVDPV2 outbreak centered around Jigawa. All patients experienced an onset of paralysis in August. Nigeria is experiencing two polio outbreaks, one in Jigawa state and one in Sokoto state. Nigeria now has 11 cases of polio reported in 2018.

GPEI also said two new two cases of cVDPV2 reported in Niger are genetically linked to the outbreak in Nigeria's Jigawa state. These are Niger's first cases reported in 2018.

"Since detection of the initial isolates in early 2018, outbreak response continues to be conducted across northern Nigeria. As the risk of potential international spread, in particular to Niger, is considered high, enhanced vaccination activities continue to be implemented in Niger," the GPEI said.

In Somalia, three new cases of cVDPV3 were reported in the past week, bringing the year's total to 11. In Papua New Guinea, two new cases of cVDPV1 were reported this week, bringing its 2018 total to 14.
Sep 28 GPEI report

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