Biotechs to save Asia from Ebola

Asian Scientist Magazine had recently questioned what Asia’s best bet would be should Ebola reach the largest and most populated continent.

The biggest barrier to pandemic preparedness has always been the novelty of the disease. When SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) had first hit Asia, it reached almost 40 countries within weeks through air-borne respiratory emissions from Hong Kong. However, despite the familiarity of Ebola, a long known disease, the lack of market demand discouraged pharmas from further R&D for an effective cure. It had confined development of Ebola vaccines and drugs to academic institutes or non-profit labs and biotechs.

A biotechnology from Korea, GeneOne Life Sciences has recently started in clinical trials on its DNA vaccines, in collaboration with Inovio Pharmaceuticals. And Japan’s Nagasaki University has begun to explore alternative biomedical tools—a 30 minutes polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based detection test. A handful of global pharmas including GSK and J&J are underscoring their development of Ebola vaccines.

With sacrificial lessons learnt from SARS, H1N1 and H7N9 outbreaks, Asia is still on its toes . And with ASEAN Working Group on Pandemic Preparedness and Response developing a framework to fight against Ebola, Asia keeps its hopes up for its biotech companies. “A good public preparedness framework is absolutely critical, but the right vaccine or drug could be the silver bullet that stops Ebola in its tracks. Right now, just a dozen or so biotech companies stand between us and Ebola” reads Asian Scientist Magazine.

Read the article here

And read more about GeneOne Life Sciences and Inovio Pharmaceuticals’ collaboration here

Image taken from LA Times