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.