University of Hawaii awarded nearly $6.3 million to develop trivalent Ebola vaccine

September 27, 2017

University of Hawaii vaccine researcher Axel Lehrer, PhD, has received a nearly $6.3 million grant to test whether the Ebola vaccine formula he has developed will protect against two additional viruses in the same family.

The Ebola vaccine UH has created is "heat stable," which means it does not need refrigeration, and could be easily transported and stored in the hottest climates on Earth, like Africa, where the deadly viruses have struck in the past. Expanding the heat-stable vaccine to work against all three of the related viruses could speed up the protection of health workers and others as soon as an outbreak occurs. That is because the first inoculations could occur even before public health experts know which exact type of hemorrhagic fever has struck.

The U.H. medical school is partnering with two biomedical companies - Honolulu-based Hawaii Biotech, Inc. and New Jersey-based Soligenex, Inc. - to develop the potentially trivalent (works on all three viruses) vaccine. Dr. Lehrer believes that when the new work funded by this grant is completed; the next step would be to obtain funding (perhaps a combination of public funding and corporate funding) to move the vaccine into a clinical trial. With funding, and the necessary drug regulatory approvals, he believes his heat-stable vaccine candidate could be ready to be on the market within five to ten years.

About the grant:

Grant: 1R01AI132323-01 - (Axel Lehrer - 06/20/2017-05/31/2022)
Funding agencies: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health
Project Title: Preclinical Development of a Thermostable Trivalent Filovirus Vaccine
All collaborations: University of Texas Medical Branch, Bioqual Inc., Soligenix, Inc, Hawaii Biotech Inc.
Total Cost: $6,286,072

Dr. Axel Lehrer, University of Hawaii Ebola Researcher

00:-:15 "Yes, we hope to have a vaccine that will address all three of the filoviruses that are the most human pathogenic ones, and we are trying to have a heat-stable product that can be used where it is most needed."

:15-:40 "The current grant is focused on finishing preclinical development that means we are working on the production of the antigens, te are working on the formulation to develop this heat stable trivalent vaccine and the a proper efficacy testing to establish proof of concept."

: 40-:45 "So it basically would be enabling us to go right into the clinic after this is completed."

:45-1:00 "And at that point hopefully there would be more public funding including some funding from our corporate partners that are helping with this development effort."

B-Roll: Shows Dr. Lehrer working in his Kakaako lab, shots of the heat stable vaccine being moved up and down (like a see saw) on a machine in the lab
Courtesy: JABSOM or UH Medical School

University of Hawaii Cancer Center

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