Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) to Accelerate Development of Ebola Vaccine

Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) were up +0.03 or +0.03 percent to $103.79 per share in premarket trading early Thursday, after news that the company will fast track the development of a new combination vaccine regimen against the Ebola virus. Johnson & Johnson stock closed at $103.76 in Wednesday's regular trading session.

New Brunswick, New Jersey based Johnson & Johnson is a multinational pharmaceutical, medical devices, and consumer goods manufacturer that was founded in 1886.
The corporation is made up of approximately 250 subsidiary companies operating in 57 countries with distribution of their products in more than 175 countries. Johnson & Johnson stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the Fortune 500. The company had net income of $13.1831 billion last year on revenue of $71.312 billion.

Johnson & Johnson said they will be collaborating with Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic, as well as with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in developing the vaccine. The three entities will work towards beginning clinical trials in humans by early next year.

The Ebola virus has claimed over 1,900 lives since March in the West African nations of Sierra Leon, Nigeria, Guinea and Liberia. According to the World Health Organization or WHO the number of cases, currently at 3,500 could increase to as many as 20,000 before the epidemic is controlled.

Johnson & Johnson's Chief Scientific Officer, Paul Stoffels said that, "Because of the emergency we decided to focus on the Ebola Zaire strain, which is the one in the West Africa outbreak, and that's why we can accelerate the program significantly, he continued, "The crisis is so important here, and still expanding, that more than one approach is warranted, in case the epidemic doesn't come under control in the coming months .

The fast tracking of the vaccine's development by Johnson & Johnson follows a decision by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to begin human testing on an Ebola vaccine this month. GlaxoSmithKline also plans on testing a vaccine developed by scientists employed by the Canadian government and licensed to New Links Genetics (NLNK).

A recent ruling by the WHO stated that experimental testing of Ebola treatments was ethical in light of the high death toll, and according to New Links Genetics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed the company to begin testing its experimental vaccine on humans.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine as in other experimental vaccines against other diseases uses a common cold virus, known as adenovirus to carry the vaccine's payload. The J&J vaccine consists of two injections: one to prime the immune system and one to boost the immune system's response, while GlaxoSmithKline's vaccine consists of only one injection.

Johnson & Johnson stock is virtually unchanged after the news in Thursday's premarket trading indicating a cautious response to the news by investors. J&J stock is trading just under its yearly high of $106.74 and could test its high in the near term as the implications of the news are absorbed by the market.

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Published on Sep 4, 2014
By Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk
Jay Hawk enjoyed a 12-year professional financial markets career incorporating extensive first hand futures and options experience obtained by trading in the stock, commodity and forex markets on U.S. exchanges. Since retiring as a full-time financial market professional, he has been actively trading stock, commodities, forex and options for his own account and managing funds for others, as well as writing financial market commentary and educational articles.

Copyrighted 2016. Content published with author's permission.

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