MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - Scientists will fast-track Johnson & Johnson ‘s testing of the Ebola vaccine and begin human clinical trials in early 2015, Reuters reported Thursday.
"Because of the emergency we decided to focus on the Ebola Zaire strain, which is the one in the West Africa outbreak, and that’s why we can accelerate the program significantly," J&J chief scientific officer Paul Stoffels said.
Initially, the company intended to develop a vaccine that targeted two of the disease’s strains, but due to the ongoing outbreak it decided to simplify the task.
This vaccine was developed with technologies from both Johnson & Johnson and the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic, which is also developing vaccines against filoviruses, such as Ebola. Previously, Bavaraian Nordic stated that human trials will begin no earlier than in the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016.
The venue of the clinical trials and the number of subjects has not been determined yet, Stoffels said.
This week, a testing of another Ebola vaccine is scheduled to begin. The ZMapp vaccine has been developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). The vaccine will be tested on 20 human volunteers to determine how their immune system reacts to a virus.
Similar ZMapp tests will be held in in the United Kingdom in September among 60 volunteers. Vaccine trials will begin in the country after similar tests will be conducted by the National Institutes of Health in the United States. It was reported that in the case of successful tests the vaccine will be administered to 80 more volunteers from Gambia, Mali and possibly Nigeria.
Last week, Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said an experimental Russian Ebola vaccine showed positive initial results in preclinical trials and is currently undergoing further testing.
Ebola virus disease is a highly deadly illness transmitted through direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids of the infected. The worst Ebola epidemic in history began in southern Guinea in the end of 2013 and spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
The outbreak has claimed 1,552 lives, according to World Health Organization estimates. More than 3,000 Ebola virus infection cases have been recorded. The number of people affected by the virus could rise to 20,000 before it is brought under control, the organization said.