- NewLink has created an experimental Ebola vaccine (rVSV-EBOV) that is currently in safety trials.
- Merck has production technology that can be used to increase manufacturing capacity for vaccines.
- NewLink and Merck struck a deal on Monday morning to scale up production of NewLink's Ebola treatment using Merck's technology.
The Ebola death rate is approaching the 5,500 mark, with most casualties stemming from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Although NewLink has a contract manufacturing agreement with IDT Biologika GmbH in Germany, Merck's technology, which is already used to make the children's vaccine RotaTeq, would increase production capacity.
“Merck's vaccine development expertise, commercial leadership and history of successful strategic alliances make it an ideal partner to expedite the development of rVSV-EBOV and, if demonstrated to be efficacious and well-tolerated, to make it available to individuals and communities at risk of Ebola virus infection around the world,” said Dr. Charles Link, chairman and CEO of NewLink Genetics, in a statement.
The main areas of support that Merck could provide NewLink include keeping the vaccine at a stable temperature and packaging it in vials. Merck has extensive experience in this sort of thing considering that the company has its own thriving vaccine business (which grossed $5.18 billion last year).