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Johnson gets €100m from Europe’s IMI to accelerate Ebola vaccine development

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) through a consortium, which includes research institutions and non-government organizations, is set to receive around €100m ($115m) from Europe's Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to speed up the development of its Ebola vaccine regimen.

Ebola virus virion

The IMI grant will be used to accelerate the development and testing of JNJ’s vaccine regimen through a newly formed consortium that includes Janssen, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University of Oxford and La Centre Muraz.

The funding for the IMI Ebola+ program comes in part from Horizon 2020, the European Union’s research and innovation program, and in part in the form of in-kind contributions from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) partners in the projects.

The new initiative will see JNJ join with institutions and work on different aspects of vaccine development.

Johnson & Johnson chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman Pharmaceuticals Paul Stoffels said: "In the face of the global challenge of Ebola, bringing together the expertise and capabilities of the pharmaceutical industry, academic centers and NGOs will be critical to help solve this crisis.

"The European Commission’s support through IMI bolsters collaboration that should significantly accelerate efforts to help address this humanitarian crisis."

The funds were allocated to support several consortia working together on a total of four projects of which three are designed to address the need to accelerate Phase I, II and III trials as well as scale up production of the prime-boost vaccine regimen.

The fourth project will explore new ways and technology to raise awareness and acceptance of vaccination campaigns.

According to the company, a total of eight projects are being funded under this round of the IMI’s Ebola+ program.

Earlier in 2015, JNJ started the first-in-human Phase I clinical trial of a preventive Ebola vaccine being developed at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.

Patient enrollment will be completed by the end of January in this trial, which is being led by the Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics.

Image: Electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion. Photo: courtesy of CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith.