NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Jan. 6, 2015 – Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) today announced the start of a Phase 1, first-in-human clinical trial of a preventive Ebola vaccine in development at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The trial is being led by the Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics. Recruitment in the trial is underway, and the first volunteers have received their initial vaccine dose. Enrollment is expected to be completed by the end of January.
Johnson & Johnson also announced today that Janssen, in partnership with Bavarian Nordic A/S, has produced more than 400,000 regimens of the prime-boost vaccine for use in large-scale clinical trials by April 2015. A total of 2 million regimens will be available through the course of 2015, with the ability to quickly scale up to 5 million regimens, if required, over a 12- to 18-month period. This increased projection is an update to Janssen’s previous goal of producing more than 1 million regimens by the end of 2015, with 250,000 regimens for broad application in clinical trials by May 2015.
“As a leader in the field of global health, we have a responsibility to act swiftly as Ebola continues to cause suffering among patients, families and health care workers in West Africa,” said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson.
Modelling by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to advise the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that to bring the epidemic under control, current projected demand for a preventive vaccine ranges from a minimum of 100,000 doses to protect frontline workers to a high-end of 12 million doses for large-scale adult vaccination in the three affected countries.
“Because every day counts, we are substantially accelerating the production of our vaccine regimen,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson. “Through the unprecedented collaboration among the global health community, our goal is to bring this vaccine to families and frontline health care professionals as fast as possible.”
The Phase 1, first-in-human study will evaluate the safety and tolerability of a prime-boost vaccine regimen, in which patients are first given a dose to prime the immune system, and then a boost intended to enhance the immune response over time. The immune response generated by the regimen will also be evaluated longer term. Different regimens combining the vaccine components or placebo will be studied in 72 healthy adult volunteers. Additional clinical studies are planned to begin in the United States later this month and soon after in Africa. Further details of the study are posted on clinicaltrials.gov.
“We’ve been working at an unprecedented pace together with our partners to significantly accelerate our efforts,” said Dr. Matthew Snape of the Oxford Vaccine Group and the study leader. “Initiating this study in the space of eight weeks represents a critical leap forward in being able to rapidly develop an Ebola prime-boost vaccine regimen, and these results will be vital to the design of future studies in broader populations.”
In October 2014, Johnson & Johnson announced a commitment of up to $200 million to accelerate and significantly expand production of an Ebola vaccine program in development at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. The company is seeking to share the financial risk of these vaccine and development clinical trial costs by pursuing governmental and non-governmental funding sources. The vaccine regimen, which was discovered in a collaborative research program with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), uses a prime-boost combination of two components that are based on AdVac® technology from Crucell Holland B.V., one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, and the MVA-BN® technology from Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company based in Denmark.
The Crucell Holland B.V. program received direct funding and preclinical services from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH, under Contract Numbers HHSN272200800056C, and HHSN272201000006I and HHSN272201200003I, respectively. Preclinical experiments of the prime-boost vaccine regimen conducted by the NIH demonstrated that when both vaccines were administered two months apart, complete protection from death due to Ebola was achieved against the Kikwit Zaire strain, which is similar to the virus that is the cause of the current outbreak in West Africa. The research collaboration for a monovalent vaccine targeting the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus is part of an ongoing development program for a multivalent vaccine against all virus strains that cause disease in humans, including Ebola and Marburg viruses based on the Ad26 and Ad35 vectors.
The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies continues to closely collaborate with WHO, NIAID and the European Commission, as well as other key stakeholders, governments, public health authorities, and non-governmental organizations on the clinical testing, development, production and distribution of the vaccine.
The effects of Ebola in West Africa continue to significantly strain the health care systems of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Johnson & Johnson disaster response efforts continue through its support of Direct Relief International, Partners in Health, AmeriCares, IntraHealth and Project HOPE. The company also supports the ongoing efforts by public health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WHO, to mount a coordinated world response to address the immediate needs raised by the Ebola outbreak. As part of its commitment to support nurses, Johnson & Johnson gave an educational grant to Nurse.com to make available to every nurse in the U.S. continuing education resources about Ebola.
About The Phase 1, First-in-Human Study of Heterologous Prime-Boost Ebola Vaccine Regimens
The volunteers in this study will be enrolled into four groups and randomized to receive either active vaccine or placebo. Those getting an active dose will receive a prime vaccination in one of four regimens according to randomization on day one and then receive the boost component either one or two months apart, depending on which group they are in. Analyses of these regimens will inform decisions for future studies, such as the order in which the two components should be given and how closely together they can be given to ensure the optimal protection and sustainability. Further details of the study are posted on clinicaltrials.gov.
About Johnson & Johnson
Caring for the world one person at a time inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science - bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 126,000 employees at more than 270 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.
Crucell Holland B.V. is part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and is focused on research, development and production of vaccines that prevent and/or treat infectious diseases. We have a broad development pipeline, with several product candidates based on our unique AdVac® and/or PER.C6® production technology.
About the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
At Janssen, we are dedicated to addressing and solving some of the most important unmet medical needs of our time in infectious diseases and vaccines, oncology, immunology, neuroscience, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Driven by our commitment to patients, we develop innovative products, services and healthcare solutions to help people throughout the world.
Note on Forward Looking Statements
(This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including regarding product development and production. The reader is cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations of future events. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or known or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results could vary materially from the expectations and projections of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies and/or Johnson & Johnson. Risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: challenges and uncertainties inherent in product development, including the uncertainties of clinical success and the timeline for the availability of a potential vaccine against Ebola; the challenges and risks involved in large-scale production of a vaccine; and the uncertainty of the level of demand for a vaccine against Ebola. A further list and description of these risks, uncertainties and other factors can be found in Johnson & Johnson’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2013, including in Exhibit 99 thereto, and the company’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Copies of these filings are available online at www.sec.gov, www.jnj.com or on request from Johnson & Johnson. None of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies nor Johnson & Johnson undertake to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information or future events or developments.)