GlaxoSmithKline plans to take its ebola vaccine candidate to clinical trials and test it in Great Britain, Gambia and Mali.
A candidate Ebola vaccine could be given to healthy volunteers in the UK, The Gambia and Mali as early as September, states GSK, as part of a series of safety trials of potential vaccines aimed at preventing the disease that has killed more than 1,400 people in the current outbreak in west Africa.
Human trials of this candidate vaccine, being co-developed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and GlaxoSmithKline, are to be accelerated with funding from an international consortium in response to the Ebola epidemic, which the World Health Organization recently declared a public health emergency of international concern.
A £2.8 million grant from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) will allow a team led by Professor Adrian Hill, of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, to start safety tests of the vaccine alongside similar trials in the USA run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, a part of the NIH).
The phase 1 trials will begin as soon as they receive ethical and regulatory approvals, which will be considered on an expedited basis. If approvals are granted, the UK research teams could start vaccinating volunteers from mid-September.