China-U.S. Ebola adjuvant vaccine candidate posts early positive results

Starting blocks

Positive animal test results were reported for an Ebola PIKA adjuvant vaccine candidate under development by China's Jilin Jian Yisheng Biopharma and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USMRIID).

The potential vaccine combines a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine from USMRIID with the PIKA adjuvant from Yisheng, according to a press release.

The vaccine offered protection for 40% of the animals in singular testing, but 100% of the animals survived when combined with the Yisheng adjuvant in the study conducted by USMRIID.

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Yisheng said its proprietary PIKA adjuvant works as a toll-like receptor-3 (TLR-3) ligand to the activation of the innate immune cells.

"This is the first time we have evaluated the performance of PIKA adjuvant in combination with our VLP vaccine candidate against Ebola virus infection," Sina Bavari, science director at USAMRIID, said in a statement. "This study provides a solid foundation for us to conduct further studies in exploring safer and more effective vaccine products against Ebola virus infection, which remains a significant unmet medical need."

Pharmaceutical and vaccine maker Yisheng said research is also underway to test the PIKA adjuvant technology in combination with a rabies vaccine under a Phase II trial slated to be completed this year, which may lead to efforts in other diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, influenza and tuberculosis.

Several firms, including Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Merck ($MRK), are well along in vaccines for Ebola, though there are some concerns that attention has waned on a broader effort after the World Health Organization downgraded the spread of Ebola from a global public health emergency in April.

- here's the release

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