The Ebola virus was first recognized almost 40 years ago and came to the attention of the general public in spring 2014 when an epidemic struck West Africa. The hype has since died down amidst common conversation, but the virus lives on.
NewLink Genetics, a biopharmaceutical company in Ames, was awarded $18 million from the federal government at the beginning of October to scale-up the manufacturing process relating to the investigational Ebola vaccine candidate rVSV-ZEBOV, according to Dr. Charles Link, CEO and chief scientific officer at NewLink.
He defined NewLink as a commercial entity that does basic science work, with an ultimate goal of getting drugs approved for patients in need.
“[At NewLink] when you wake up in the morning, you know you’re going to be working on stuff that really matters for people,” Link said.
NewLink originally licensed the vaccine from the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2008. NewLink was already five years into research and development of the vaccine when the outbreak struck in 2014.
The 2014 outbreak caused the vaccine to go into clinical testing much more quickly, speeding up the process by six months, Link said. He added that if they hadn’t been working on the vaccine for five years prior to the outbreak in west Africa, the company wouldn’t be in the position it’s in now.
“I always felt that it was important for humanity to see this product,” Link said.
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