Texas Biomed at forefront of Sudan ebolavirus biomedical R&D


SAN ANTONIO, Dec. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A Sudan ebolavirus vaccine and antibody therapeutic tested at Texas Biomedical Research Institute have been sent to Uganda as part of efforts to control the outbreak there.

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A vaccine and therapeutic tested at Texas Biomed have been sent to Uganda to help control the Sudan ebolavirus outbreak.

Sudan ebolavirus is one of six known Ebola species, with a fatality rate ranging between 41% and 100%. The approved Ebola vaccine is effective against the Zaire species, not the closely related Sudan species currently affecting Uganda. Since the Sudan virus outbreak began in September, at least 142 people have been infected and 55 people have died, including many children.

The World Health Organization and other global entities announced in November they are working with Ugandan officials to distribute Sudan ebolavirus vaccine candidates in clinical trials. One of those candidates, currently being developed by Sabin Vaccine Institute, has been undergoing preclinical testing at Texas Biomed to evaluate safety and efficacy, and an initial shipment of the vaccine is now in Uganda. The Institute has also been subcontracted by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. to support the development of its antibody therapeutic, MBP134, which has been deployed to the region to treat infected patients. Development of the vaccine and antibody candidates is currently being funded in whole or in part by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)*.

Texas Biomed will continue to help advance vaccines and therapies for Sudan ebolavirus. Notably, the Institute has been awarded more than $35 million in subcontracts to run detailed studies required by the FDA to determine if Sudan ebolavirus vaccines and therapies are effective.

“These new multi-year contracts underscore how Texas Biomed is a trusted and valued partner across industry, government and nonprofit sectors all focused on tackling some of the greatest health challenges we face as a global community,” says Cory Hallam, PhD, Texas Biomed’s Vice President for Business Development and Strategic Alliances.

Texas Biomed’s contract research enterprise has tripled in the last three years due in large part to its specialized expertise and facilities.

“There are only a few labs that can perform the regulated and specialized studies required by FDA to support approval of a vaccine or treatment for these types of pathogens,” explains Ricardo Carrion, Jr., PhD, who directs Texas Biomed’s Maximum Containment Contract Research unit.

Work on these deadly viruses must be carried out in a biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory, which is the highest, most secure level. Texas Biomed opened the nation’s first independently operated BSL-4 in 1999.

The Institute also hosts the Southwest National Primate Research Center, one of seven supported by the U.S. government. Over the past decade, Texas Biomed has worked to establish animal models required to conduct the studies that provide foundational information for a vaccine or therapy that may go to FDA for review.

“Our work helps pharmaceutical companies move their vaccines and therapies forward faster, because we’ve done the first part for them, providing the baseline information about the virus in animal models,” says Texas Biomed Staff Scientist Kendra Alfson, PhD, the first author of the paper describing the Sudan ebolavirus animal model.

Dr. Carrion adds: “We are proud to help contribute this knowledge so our partners can develop effective tools that will protect people from these deadly viruses, especially as outbreaks become more common.”

*BARDA contracts 75A50122C00061 and 75A50119C00055

Texas Biomed is a nonprofit research institute focused on infectious diseases. Through basic research, preclinical testing and innovative partnerships, Texas Biomed accelerates diagnostics, therapies and vaccines for the world’s deadliest pathogens.

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