Merck, NewLink Ebola Vaccine Enters Third Phase III Study - Analyst Blog

Merck & Co. Inc.MRK and NewLink Genetics Corporation NLNK announced the commencement of the third late-stage study on their experimental Ebola vaccine candidate rVSV-ZEBOV-GP (V920) in Sierra Leone.

The phase II/III STRIVE ( S ierra Leone Tr ial to I ntroduce a V accine against E bola) study will assess the safety and effectiveness of the candidate in 6,000 healthy and other frontline workers. The study is being headed by the Sierra Leone College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the commencement of this study, the Ebola candidate is now being studied in three large-scale, late-stage efficacy and safety studies. In addition to the Sierra Leone study, the two other studies are currently being conducted in Liberia (PREVAIL) and Guinea.

The experimental Ebola vaccine candidate, which was initially developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, was licensed to NewLink Genetics in 2010. Last November, NewLink Genetics licensed it to Merck under an exclusive licensing and collaboration agreement.

We are encouraged by the Ebola vaccine candidate's progress. The deadliest outbreak of Ebola, which began in late 2013, has claimed more than 10,000 lives, mainly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. With no approved vaccine or treatment for this lethal disease as of now, companies like GlaxoSmithKline GSK among others are also developing Ebola vaccines.

Currently, both Merck and NewLink Genetics are Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stocks. A better-ranked stock in the health care sector is AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. AVEO carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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