In February 2023 CEPI announced that it was supporting the development of an international antibody standard against Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV) following the recent outbreak in Uganda, declared over in January. This will be a “critical tool” to “assess and compare the performance of vaccines” against the “deadly disease”.
Funding and partnering
CEPI will provide funding of $562,000 to implementing partners Integrum Scientific and the Department of Arbovirology, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). This will enable the collection and testing of convalescent sera. These samples will hasten the development of an international antibody standard to “standardise assessment of vaccine candidates”.
The goal is to accelerate the “eventual licensure of vaccines” against the Sudan strain, for which there are no authorised vaccines or therapeutics. CEPI will work with international partners to bring this about; the biological material will be donated to the UK’s MHRA with co-funding from the US’ NIAID. The antibody standard will be included in the UK National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) catalogue for global distribution.
CEPI has an existing partnership with Integrum Scientific and UVRI to develop an antibody standard for Marburg virus, which has just been confirmed as the cause of an outbreak in Equatorial Guinea, months after the end of an outbreak in Ghana.
Dr Nicole Lurie, Executive Director of Preparedness and Response at CEPI described the end of the Ugandan outbreak as “hugely welcome news” and a “testament to the robust public health response”.
“However, we absolutely should not wait until the next outbreak of this deadly disease to advance the evaluation and future development of the current vaccines.”
Dr Lurie suggests that an international antibody standard would be a “vital tool” in the development and licensure of candidates.
Joe Sgherza, CEO of Integrum Scientific, is “proud” to be part of the collaboration.
“Our team has a passion for outbreak readiness and response.”
Integrum Scientific partners with “local populations” and “research organisations around the globe” in efforts to reduce the consequences of infectious disease outbreaks, “especially in the most vulnerable regions”.
“Integrum is committed to uniting with organisation that share our passion for taking concrete action to respond when people are in need.
Dr Julius J Lutwama is Head of the Department of Arbovirology, Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases and Deputy Director of UVRI, one of the “globally ranked leading centres of excellence in health research on the African continent”. At UVRI, research “pertaining to human infections and disease processes” has been underway for “many years”, with a particular interest in viral haemorrhagic fevers.
“This calls for a need of international antibody standards. UVRI is privileged to be part of the team that will collect, prepare, and provide the international reference standards for global use.”
For more discussion on Sudan ebolavirus at the World Vaccine Congress in Washington this April, get your tickets here.