The U.S. Army is giving Profectus BioSciences $8.5 million to put toward human trials of the Ebola virus vaccine, bringing the Baltimore biotechnology company's fundraising total for the project to more than $17 million in a matter of days.
Profectus had announced last week a grant worth up to $8.6 million for the vaccine from a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The company has drawn nearly $30 million in investment for the project since 2012, all but $5 million of it since the current Ebola outbreak began in West Africa.
"Advancing this vaccine into human studies is a top priority for Profectus, and we remain committed to moving this program into clinical evaluation as rapidly as possible," chief scientific officer John Eldridge said in a statement.
Profectus officials plan to begin human trials by the middle of 2015. Trials of other Ebola vaccines are meanwhile already going on or will soon begin, including studies of a National Institutes of Health-developed vaccine being run by University of Maryland officials in Baltimore and Mali, and a study of a Canadian-developed vaccine being conducted at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Silver Spring.
A division of the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County is providing the grant over three years to Profectus and researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Together, the company and researchers are developing treatments that could be provided both before and after exposure to Ebola and to Marburg, another virus that causes hemorrhagic fever.
The vaccine uses a pathogen found in livestock called vesicular stomatitis virus, which does not cause illness in humans, and modifies it with an Ebola protein. The vaccine has shown to be effective in primates at triggering an immune response that protects against the Ebola virus.