A team of researchers from the University of Texas have clinched a US Department of Defense contract worth up to $25 million to develop vaccines for Ebola and other lethal pathogens using Moderna’s RNA technology, according to Bloomberg news.
Scientists at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, in partnership with Moderna, were awarded $13.5 million over three years to design, manufacture and test mRNA vaccines for Ebola and other lethal pathogens.
As per reports, the project covers the shots’ development through Phase 1 clinical trials and UTMB could receive an additional $11.1 million to study alternative ways of administering the vaccines.
The contract is part of a broader push by the US to protect military personnel using technology that enabled the quick development of Covid-19 vaccines early in the pandemic.
In an official statement, the UTMB said the high mortality rate and the potential use of these viruses as an agent of bioterrorism remains a risk that necessitates an urgent development of a vaccine.
Bloomberg first reported details of the US government contract in October.
Funding for the UTMB-Moderna project will come from offices within the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services, both of which have strategic investments in technology that could enhance US preparedness against biological threats. The work will be carried out at the UTMB’s Sealy Institute of Vaccine Sciences.
The scientists will focus on a family of pathogens that includes Ebola, Sudan and Marburg, as well as Lassa viruses, all of which have long topped the list of vaccine priorities for the US government.
The viruses cause sporadic outbreaks throughout the world — most recently in Uganda — and typically have a high death toll.
Currently, there are no vaccines approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for Sudan virus, Marburg or Lassa fever. There is only one vaccine in the US that is licensed to protect against Ebola.
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