A biopharmaceutical company collaborating with Hawai’i scientists on an Ebola vaccine has announced encouraging news about its vaccine. Tests on the vaccine, still in development, have shown it is able to retain its effectiveness without refrigeration.
That is a real plus when considering the many rural areas in Africa that are most at-risk for another Ebola outbreak.
“What we’ve just recently shown with the work performed with Soligenix Inc. at the University of Colorado is that we can dry stabilize the key antigen for the Ebola vaccine, so that it basically can be stored at room temperature or elevated temperature — you can almost leave it out in the sun — and it can be stable for up to three months,” said Axel Lehrer, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology at the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM).
The announcement was made by Soligenix Inc., a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products to treat rare diseases where there is an unmet medical need. The company is collaborating with UH Mānoa and Hawaiʻi Biotech Inc. (HBI) to develop a heat stable subunit Ebola vaccine. Soligenix said thermostabilization (heat stabilization) formulation studies, conducted with Dr. Theodore Randolph at the University of Colorado, have also shown that the use of thermostable formulations may allow full immunization to potentially be achieved with fewer vaccinations.
“None of the other Ebola vaccines under development have the ability to withstand high temperatures, which is an ongoing concern in areas of the world where Filoviruses are endemic,” said Dr. Lehrer. “The ability to stabilize our vaccine candidate to retain immunogenicity may not only have an impact on logistics, but has also the potential to reach more persons at need. A vaccine that needs to be given fewer times increases the likelihood that more people receive sufficient doses of the vaccine to protect them from disease. We are very encouraged by these preliminary results and look forward to our continuing collaboration with Soligenix and HBI to further develop our Ebola and multivalent filovirus vaccines.”