- NewLink Genetics will receive a $20 million milestone payment from Merck as it initiates clinical trials for the experimental Ebola vaccine, rVSV-EBOV.
- Last November, Merck and NewLink entered an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement in which NewLink would research, develop, manufacture, and distribute rVSV-EBOV.
- NewLink has worked with a larger team of collaboration partners, including not only Merck, but also the Canadian government, the National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, and other governmental agencies.
Coverage of Ebola has waned, as transmission rates have slowed in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea—the hardest hit countries, where more than 9,000 people have died of Ebola since December 2013.
However, the United Nations Ebola chief, Ismail Ould Cheik Ahmed, has warned that although the virus has been contained, caution is still warranted, because a single case could re-ignite the epidemic. It is in this context that NewLink and Merck are moving forward, with a great deal of support, to test a potentially game-changing vaccine.