Johnson & Johnson to invest $200M in Ebola vaccine testing

Johnson & Johnson will begin safety testing in early January on a two-step vaccine that it hopes could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus.

U.S. drug maker one of three research teams working to find a vaccine

A healthcare professional adjusts her mask during a demonstration of protective equipment at Toronto Western Hospital. Johnson & Johnson has said it will begin testing an Ebola vaccine in January. (Canadian Press)

Johnson & Johnson will begin safety testing in early January on a two-step vaccine that it hopes could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus.

The U.S. drug maker has committed $200 million US to speed up its vaccine program, with the hope of producing one million doses in 2015.

The vaccine is being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Co. unit with Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic.

The regimen, found to be effective on monkeys in preventing Ebola, involves two vaccines delivered two months apart. New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J says its efficacy against the current strain of Ebola sweeping West Africa has to be tested.

J&J said healthy volunteers in America, Africa and Europe would start receiving the vaccine.

J&J stock rose 1.4 per cent to $101.75, while Bavarian Nordic stock was up 24 per cent to $186.50 on the news.

WHO speeding trials for 2 other vaccines

It normally takes years for vaccines to pass safety testing, but the World Health Organization has said it will make efforts to speed up trials of drugs for treating and inoculating against the disease.

About 4500 people in Libera, Guinea and Sierra Leone have died of the latest deadly strain of the disease.

Tests of two other potential vaccines could begin in Africa in January, the WHO says. The initial aim is to protect health-care workers and others struggling to deal with the crisis.

That testing will go forward only if the vaccines prove safe and trigger an adequate immune-system response in volunteers during clinical trials that are either underway or planned in Europe, Africa and the United States. One of those vaccines is being developed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline from a modified chimpanzee cold virus and an Ebola protein. It is in clinical trials now in Britain and in Mali. The other was developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and sent to the U.S. Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland for testing on healthy volunteers. Paul Stoffels, J&J's chief medical officer, said that he has approached the other vaccine makers about collaboration on the research.

With files from the Associated Press


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?