Ebola and Marburg vaccine candidate


Bavarian Nordic has collaborated with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for several years to advance its MVA-BN technology to develop a multivalent vaccine against two filoviruses, Ebola and Marburg, for which no approved treatment or vaccine exist.

The multivalent strain, MVA-BN Filo, contains the glycoprotein of Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan and Marburg. This construct is designed to provide protection from the three most common strains of viral hemorrhagic fevers.

In a study, conducted under NIAID’s preclinical services program, MVA-BN Filo was investigated in a prime-boost regimen with the Ad26.ZEBOV vaccine from Janssen. When both vaccines were administered two months apart, complete protection from death due to Ebola Zaire was achieved. Based on these promising results, Janssen and Bavarian Nordic joined forces to advance the development of this vaccine approach through a collaboration agreement announced in October 2014.

Filoviruses belong to a virus family called Filoviridae and can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and nonhuman primates. So far, only two members of this virus family have been identified: Marburg virus and Ebola virus. Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers are acute viral diseases that often lead to severe illness and death in humans and other primates. The infections typically affect multiple organs in the body and are often accompanied by hemorrhage (bleeding). Once the virus has been transmitted from an animal host to a human, it can then spread through person-to-person contact.

Both diseases are rare, but have a capacity to cause dramatic outbreaks with high fatality. Outbreaks of the diseases have been frequently reported since the discovery of the viruses in the 1960s and 1970s, mainly in Africa where the viruses have their origin.

The World Health Organization reports that viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks (such as those resulting from Marburg and Ebola viruses) have a case fatality rate of up to 90%

Due to their severe fatality rate and ease of transmission, both viruses are considered potential biological weapons. The U.S. government has determined Ebola and Marburg are material threats to national security.  Currently, no standard treatment or vaccine exists against the diseases.