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Takeda: we’re working on Ebola too

Published on 24/11/14 at 08:20am
Ebola image

The president of Takeda Vaccines has told Pharmafile that the Japanese firm has identified compounds that could help prevent infection of the Ebola virus.

Rajeev Venkayya who is the US Chicago-based head of its vaccines business unit was asked if – like GSK, J&J, ZMapp and Sihuan pharma – Takeda too was working on anything to prevent the disease or its spread.

Venkayya says: “We are looking very carefully at our pipeline, and we’ve identified potential candidates that might have an impact on the evolution of the infection and we’re currently evaluating those.”

He says it’s too early to say whether they will actually show potential efficacy and whether Takeda would indeed take them into people for this purpose – but that it is certainly exploring this option. 

Pushed on a name for any of the said contenders, Venkayya retorts: “I can’t name them yet it would be premature, and I wouldn’t want to get anybody’s hopes or expectations up unnecessarily until we have more data.”

Venkayya whose previous role included being a special assistant to US president George W. Bush and senior director for Biodefense at the White House, has also been a director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“In this situation [Ebola] which I would now call a global crisis, we have as a community a number of challenges. To begin with there is very limited infrastructure in the region where the outbreak is ongoing in West Africa. Despite investments over the past years we are just not where we need to be.” 

When asked how Ebola ranks against viral outbreaks such as H5N1 and avian influenza, along with pandemic influenza, Venkayya adds: “What we’ve seen in the past – well, I would say it’s about as bad an outbreak of infectious disease from a lethality standpoint that we have seen in a very long time at this scale.” 

Brett Wells 

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