Johnson and Johnson just announced last week plans to test Ebola vaccine in 20,000 humans this January and could have a quarter million doses available by springtime. Alex Gorsky CEO, Johnson and Johnson says, “We absolutely think this is a critical first step in the war against Ebola. We have been working on this for some time now. As often is the case with science it’s a little bit of knowledge, then you have a hypothesis and then you test it out.
Our scientist have made a lot of progress by taking a very focused approach with one of our vaccines produced out of Crucell, Netherlands unit and combining it with another companies vaccine. This consists of two injections; one to prime the immune system and a second to Boost the response, a one two punch.”
They were given 2 months apart in the Monkey tests and the combination provided (complete protection) in the animals. Researchers are now testing a single shot of GSK’s vaccine. Johnson & Johnson is developing the vaccine with the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic.
Among the companies developing an Ebola vaccine is: Glaxo Smith Klein (GSK), New Link Genetics (NLNK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Bavarian Nordic.
Johnson & Johnson had originally been working to develop a vaccine against both the Zaire and the Sudan strains of Ebola as well as a related condition called Marburg disease.
According to Associated Press, the New Brunswick, New Jersey, company has committed up to $200 million to speed up and expand production of the vaccine program in development at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Company.
“Our goal to produce more than 1Million vaccines in the next few months is within reach, “ says Paul Stoffels, M.D. Chief Scientific Officer Johnson and Johnson and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals. “Ebola is a significant and growing threat to the people of West Africa and it has the potential to impact people around the world. We are committed to bringing our science, technology, innovation and resources to help prevent and treat this deadly disease.”
“In pre-clinic testing conducted in partnership with the National Institute of Health (NIH), the combination vaccine regimen has shown complete protection against Ebola,” said Johan Van Hoof, M.D. Global head, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Janssen. “Using our PERSEUS C-6 high density cell production technology we have been able to produce large quantities of the Janssen component of the vaccine in testing batches and we already have started production toward our goal to have these vaccines available for clinical testing in the next few months.”
“What we’ve seen in the early testing is not only do you get an immediate response but we have the hope that also it’s going to be one that’s more persistent and patent over time. We still have a lot of testing to do and we’re going to be starting that soon after the first of the year,” says Alex Gorsky, CEO Johnson & Johnson. “The biggest challenge to getting a vaccine on the market is always a lot of work.
First you have to make sure you have the right approach and something that actually works. These viruses are difficult. While we’ve been working on it since (2004) it’s just recently that our scientist had the insights to take this new approach (combining two Viruses). The other big challenge is can you get your production and capacity up soon enough to help address the problem. If you have a vaccine that’s not available that creates other issues.”
“We can have about 250,000 doses available by June 2015 and then on a continuing basis during the remainder of the year about 1 Million doses. Then it’s about getting the vaccines to those who need it in a timely manner. Yes, that’s a very important step in the chain and we’re working with the (WHO) World Health Organization. I have personally had conversations with CMS, FDA, CDC, and the NIH, with our scientist working hard. Obviously it’s going to take a very comprehensive approach and a lot of partnerships to make that happen.”
World Health Organization (WHO) is helping coordinate trials of (2) other experimental vaccines. It hopes to start testing in January on more than 20,000 frontline health care workers and others in West Africa. The testing will go forward only if the vaccines prove safe and trigger an adequate immune system response in volunteers during clinical trials that are either underway or planned in Europe, Africa and the U.S.
Johnson and Johnson is a company divided into three parts: 1) Pharmaceutical business 2) Huge consumer products, Johnson and Johnson business 3) Medical Device business.
Alex Gorsky, CEO says, “Johnson and Johnson right now is very global; in fact almost 60% of our sales are outside the U.S. We are very proud an obviously a significant American company which happens to be very Global in nature.”
At the announcement of the company’s vaccine update last week shares of Johnson and Johnson went up from $1.34 to $101.70.
This is very positive news. Johnson and Johnson for years has been a very trusted American Co. with household products on our shelves in our homes to this day. I look forward to their research coming to fruition in 2015.