Merck & Co has signed a deal buying access to NewLink Genetics’ experimental Ebola jab rVSV-EBOV.

The companies have signed an exclusive worldwide license agreement to research, develop, manufacture and distribute the investigational vaccine, which was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Hopes are high for the jab, and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is planning on initiating a large randomised, controlled Phase III study to evaluate its safety and efficacy, as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and GlaxoSmithKline’s offering, early next year.

Explaining the alliance, Charles Link, NewLink’s chairman and chief executive, noted that “Merck's vaccine development expertise, commercial leadership and history of successful strategic alliances make it an ideal partner to expedite the development of rVSV-EBOV and, if demonstrated to be efficacious and well-tolerated, to make it available to individuals and communities at risk of Ebola virus infection around the world”.

Financial specifics of the deal weren’t unveiled, but the firms did say that the way it has been structured will see Merck gain exclusive rights to the jab as well as any follow-on products, while the PHAC retains non-commercial rights pertaining to the vaccine candidate.

First global filing for omarigliptin

Meanwhile, Merck also said today that is has filed omarigliptin, a once-weekly DPP-4 Inhibitor for the treatment of Type II diabetes, with regulators in Japan.

Japan is the first country in which the drug has been filed, with backing data from nine Phase III clinical trials involving around 7,500 patients.

In one study in Japanese patients, omarigliptin was comparable in efficacy and tolerability to Merck’s Januvua (sitagliptin).