Themis Bioscience and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) have commenced a Phase I clinical trial of Lassa fever vaccine candidate, MV-LASV.

MV-LASV is based on Themis’ measles vector platform and findings licensed from Institut Pasteur. It is a live attenuated, recombinant, viral vectored vaccine formulated using the backbone of the measles Schwarz virus strain.

Under a global alliance, CEPI will fund the investigational vaccine’s development up to the Phase II completion. The Phase II trial will assess MV-LASV for its clinical safety and immunological data.

The company will also use the CEPI investment to build investigational stockpiles of the vaccine candidate. The stock will be trialled for clinical efficacy during outbreaks.

Themis Bioscience CEO Erich Tauber said: “Themis’ versatile technology platform and our ability to rapidly advance candidates into the clinic has been demonstrated previously through the discovery, development and production of a Phase III-ready vaccine candidate against Chikungunya, as well as our recently announced trial for a novel Zika vaccine.

“Our partnership with CEPI for Lassa fever further validates our capabilities and represents our combined commitment to tackle diseases that remain a public health threat globally.”

The Phase I trial will assess the safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of MV-LASV in 60 healthy adults. The assessments will be carried out following administration of two different dose levels.

Sponsored and led by Themis, the trial is taking place at the Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination in Antwerp, Belgium.

CEPI Vaccine Development director Dr Melanie Saville said: “This first-in-human trial for Themis’ MV-LASV Lassa candidate is an important first step in its evaluation in the clinic and toward developing an effective vaccine, which will be available to at-risk populations during outbreaks of this deadly emerging infectious disease.”

Earlier this month, the company initiated a Phase I trial of a second-generation Zika vaccine in alliance with the ZIKAVAX consortium.