The current outbreak of Ebola and the fight against haemorrhagic fevers in general is an example of a challenge that requires multiple initiatives and joining forces of the entire biomedical community. No single initiative or sector can do it alone. Knowing this, the IMI2 partners have mobilised – at a super speed – to build a programme that will address current and future needs, and that will fit into the spectrum of initiatives already in place in various countries and regions worldwide.
Not only were we able to very quickly build a programme and define the first topics (that have just been launched today) but we also defined a process that will allow the projects to start in early 2015. To achieve this, unlike in standard IMI calls, we invite public/private consortia to apply with a joint proposal.
In IMI and IMI2, in-kind or cash contribution from companies (pharma and non-pharma) are complemented by matching funding by the EU for SMEs and non-commercial partners that will participate in the consortium. It is therefore important that consortia are composed of both contributors and beneficiaries.
For transparency, and to allow consortia to be set up quickly,, we encourage companies that want to contribute to this effort to announce this as soon as possible. The first call is meant to progress current pipelines to address the current epidemic. On EFPIA’s side, member companies Janssen and Merck Serono are examples of companies that have already responded. By registering to the IMI partnering tool (https://cloud.imi.europa.eu/web/eimi-pst) or visiting the IMI LinkedIn group you will find their contact names (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Innovative-Medicines-Initiative-1126077).
The programme, Ebola+ , will bring together the pharmaceutical industry and researchers in a collaborative programme aimed to cover the current outbreak, as well as future needs in the space of haemorrhagic fevers. The first Call for proposals has a global budget of about €280 million and will result in projects aimed to address the development, manufacture, transport, and storage of vaccines; ensuring compliance with vaccine regimens; and the development of rapid diagnostic tests.
That’s for now.
But we will do more in the near future – topics to be launched in early 2015 will address future epidemics and other filoviral fevers. Diagnotics, antivirals and new vaccines, and challenges related to their manufacturing and distribution will be part of the programme. So stay tuned and do not hesitate to let us know about scientific and technological solutions that could be considered. You can submit your ideas online at: http://imi.efpia.eu/imi2/imi2-idea-generation or send them to SRAConsultation@efpia.eu
We look forward to great project proposals for the first call and for ideas for future collaborative activities in this space.
See the EFPIA press release announcing the Ebola+ launch here: http://www.efpia.eu/mediaroom/210/43/EFPIA-and-Innovative-Medicines-Initiative-Announce-Programme-to-Help-Respond-to-Ebola-Crisis
For more information on the first Call for proposals on the Ebola programme, visit http://www.imi.europa.eu/content/imi-2-call-2-0
- Deadline for submitting proposals: 1 December 2014
- Webinars on the Call topics and procedures will be held at 14:00 on Wednesday 12 November and Monday 17 November.
To register, visit: http://www.imi.europa.eu/events/2014/11/02/ebola-webinars-2014
About Ebola and related diseases
Ebola virus disease (EVD), previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. The virus spreads in the human population through direct human-to-human contact with the bodily fluids of infected patients who are showing symptoms. It has an incubation period of 2-21 days, and it usually begins with flu-like symptoms, but rapidly progresses to multiple organ failure and blood-clotting abnormalities which manifest as internal and external haemorrhages (bleeding). It is fatal in between 25% and 90% of cases. There is currently no licensed treatment against EVD, and the development of treatments and preventive measures such as vaccines is hampered by challenges including manufacturing-related hurdles, the stability of vaccines during transport and storage, vaccine deployment, and the time taken to diagnose cases of EVD.
Ebola is a member of the filovirus family of viruses, which also includes Marburg virus. Like Ebola, Marburg causes cause severe, often fatal haemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees), and like Ebola, it is transmitted directly from one person to another. (In contrast, other viruses that cause haemorrhagic fevers are spread via intermediate hosts – for example, dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes.) There is no specific treatment or vaccine against Marburg heamorrhagic fever.
- WHO factsheet on Ebola: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
- WHO statistics on the current outbreak: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/ebola/situation-reports/en/
- WHO factsheet on Marburg heamorrhagic fever: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs_marburg/en/