SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Metabiota Inc., announced today that the European Commission (EC) has awarded funding to the Company to work with European and Canadian collaborators on an advanced project aimed at validating both a highly sensitive diagnostic test and an extremely promising treatment for Ebola virus disease (EVD), which will help decrease the number of deaths and prevent further spread of the disease. Funding is based on a grant through The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation - Horizon 2020, the largest EC Research and Innovation Programme, with nearly €80 billion of available funding over the next seven years. Metabiota is the first U.S. subcontractor to be selected by the EC for an important endeavor of this nature.
The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest on record, with more than 15,000 reported cases and over 5,000 deaths to date, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Metabiota has played a pivotal role in the fight against Ebola, having led the diagnostic efforts for all of Sierra Leone and, in this capacity, having identified the first confirmed in-country case.
"The EC is embarking upon an important initiative in the fight against Ebola, and we are honored to be among the first U.S. companies to be selected to join the team of esteemed collaborators," said Mary Guttieri, Executive Vice President of Metabiota. "This recognition is validation of the work that our dedicated team has been doing in West Africa for the past several years and, more importantly, the critical contributions our team has made in supporting the current outbreak."
The EC funded project reflects a collaborative effort, crystallizing synergy between complementary experts from private and public sectors at the forefront of the epidemic. The international consortium is led by the French research governmental institution, the Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD), France; with collaborators from academic institutions, including Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Israel; the Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive L.Spallanzani – IRCCS (INMI), Italy; the Institut Pasteur (IP), France; University of Manitoba (UM), Canada; and private companies, including Fab'entech, France; Orion Integrated Biosciences Inc. (OIB), U.S.; and Metabiota Inc., U.S.; as well as the Ministries of Health of Sierra Leone and Guinea.
For its part, Metabiota will contribute in-country field experience to help improve diagnostics and develop a highly promising antibody treatment, which has been successfully used for other infectious diseases validated by the European Commission and WHO.
Since 2009, Metabiota has been supporting in-country surveillance, outbreak investigation and response networks, and local laboratories in the small West African nation of Sierra Leone. In 2012, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS)-Metabiota Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) laboratory (Kenema, Sierra Leone) was established and became the focal point for diagnosing VHFs, including the five species of Ebola virus. When the threat of Ebola in West Africa emerged early in 2014, the MOHS-Metabiota lab quickly adapted diagnostics to subsequently enable identification of the Ebola virus Zaire species, the deadly strain circulating in West Africa.
As the only in-country laboratory capable of performing the most comprehensive and thorough surveillance and testing, the MOHS-Metabiota lab became the reference laboratory for EVD diagnostics in Sierra Leone and continues to play a key role in responding to the worst ever Ebola epidemic.
About Horizon 2020 and The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation
Horizon 2020 is the largest EU Research and Innovation Program. The Program, supported by Europe's leaders and Members of the European Parliament, is structured to enable breakthroughs and discoveries to secure Europe's global competitiveness. Serving as the driver for the present award for Metabiota and the international consortium partners, this Program has allocated specific funding (Innovative Medical Initiative) to contribute to the EVD response in Africa in order to intervene rapidly, efficiently, and with a sense of durability within the threatened countries.
Metabiota develops systems to mitigate microbial threats. The company specializes in disease and pathogen detection, evaluation, and response through the integration of field and lab research with health data analytics. Metabiota has a demonstrated track record in international collaboration, scientific and public health surveillance capacity building, and research with high public health impact.
In addition, several of the Company's past and current initiatives have been supported by Google.org, the Skoll Foundation, as well as the U.S. Government.