The World Health Organization (WHO) and CEPI have both identified the development of Lassa fever virus vaccines as a high priority for global health. This project aims to deliver WHO International Standards for LASV that will support researchers and manufacturers to select the most promising vaccine candidates.
Using their expertise and knowledge in biological standardisation, NIBSC will produce both antibody and antigen standards for LASV. As these WHO International standards have a known value they provide a benchmark for clinical data to be measured against and allow the comparison of results across different trials.
The LASV standards will support the development of tests that can measure antibody responses following vaccination and are therefore important for assessing the efficacy of pipeline vaccines.
The standards will then be assessed for their suitability across a range of tests in multi-centre collaborative studies involving several independent laboratories.
As the development of WHO International Standards usually takes around two to three years NIBSC will also generate interim reference reagents to meet immediate demands from vaccine developers and accelerate progress towards effective LASV vaccines.
Dr Mark Page, Principal Scientist at NIBSC commented:
“With the largest outbreak of Lassa fever in Nigeria being recorded this year, it’s vital that the public health community act to develop safe and effective vaccines against the virus.”
“In this study, we’ll use our previous experience responding to other emerging diseases such as Ebola, to deliver standards at pace to support Lassa vaccine development.”
“We’re excited to be joining forces with CEPI and collaborating with vaccine developers at an early-stage in the process to make sure we can provide the tools they need to deliver the vaccines.”
Dr. Johan Holst, Senior Scientist at CEPI, Oslo said:
“Lassa fever continues to be a threat to public health in many parts of West Africa and has clearly demonstrated its potential to cause severe epidemics. In view of its epidemic potential, CEPI has prioritised development of vaccine candidates against Lassa virus.”
We are pleased to collaborate with NIBSC to develop the biological standards necessary to measure the efficacy of Lassa virus vaccines.”
“Development of these kinds of reference preparations will be vital for the assessment of any Lassa vaccine, and will help to speed up the process and enable us to better compare the different vaccine candidates.”
“CEPI plans to make these biological standards available to all researchers in the field, to further collective understanding of different Lassa vaccine candidates and to increase transparency between various clinical trials assessing Lassa vaccines.”
More about Lassa Fever Virus
Lassa fever virus (LASV) can cause fatal viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF). It differs from other causes of VHF, like Ebola, as it is endemic to a large area of sub-Saharan Africa and often causes seasonal outbreaks from December to March.
Estimates suggest there are between 300,000-500,000 cases of Lassa fever resulting in approximately 5000-10,000 deaths per year.
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations founded in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has received multi-year funding from Norway, Germany, Japan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Wellcome Foundation. CEPI has also received single-year investments from the governments of Australia, Belgium, and Canada. It has reached $630 million of its $1 billion funding target. The European Commission has announced a contribution in kind of €250 million that will support relevant projects through EC mechanisms. Since its launch in January 2017, CEPI has announced two calls for proposals. The first call was for candidate vaccines against CEPI’s priority pathogens—to date, CEPI has invested over $260 million to develop five vaccine candidates against Lassa virus, four against MERS-CoV, and two against Nipah virus. The second call was for the development of platforms that can be used for rapid vaccine development against unknown pathogens. Learn more at www.cepi.net and follow us at @CEPIvaccines.