Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will spend up to $200 million to speed up and expand its Ebola vaccine program. Testing of the vaccine is slated to begin in January.
Johnson & Johnson said its unit Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies was closely working with the World Health Organization, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as other key stakeholders, governments and public health authorities on the program.
The proposed vaccine regimen combines a Janssen preventative vaccine with a vaccine from Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company based in Denmark. The vaccine combination was discovered in a collaborative research program between Janssen and the National Institutes of Health.
"This combination vaccine regimen has shown promising results in preclinical studies, and is now planned to be tested for safety and immunogenicity in healthy volunteers in Europe, the United States of America and Africa starting in early January," said J&J in a statement.
Janssen plans to produce more than one million doses of the vaccine regimen in 2015, and 250,000 of them are expected to be released for broad application in clinical trials by next May.
"We are urgently working to provide our vaccine expertise, production capabilities, our people and resources to address the Ebola crisis," said Alex Gorsky, J&J's chairman and chief executive.
"Our innovation model enables us to quickly mobilize our extensive resources to collaborate with health authorities and governments and other experts to help contain this disease, save lives, and protect the health and lives of those at risk."
The spreading Ebola virus outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people since the start of the year, almost all of them in the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Shares in Dow member J&J were up 1.0 percent at $101.36 in late-morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.