DeLauro wants more funding to research Ebola vaccine

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) has called on Congress to go back to Washington before the November election and vote for increased funding for biomedical research. She did so at a visit to Meriden’s Protein Sciences, which is working on an Ebola vaccine.

“Biomedical research companies like Protein Sciences are helping continue Connecticut’s tradition of being a key center for innovation and high-tech manufacturing into the 21st century,” DeLauro said. “Ebola is a scary virus, but it can be contained in nations that have a strong public health infrastructure. America’s public health system is light years above most other nations’, but we must reverse the deep cuts and neglect the NIH and CDC have suffered over the past four years. This neglect vastly diminishes our ability to fight this disease—or any other. We have to be prepared and invest in the public health infrastructure that keeps America safe.”

Dan Adams, Protein Sciences’ Executive Chairman and Global Head of Business Development, said, “We use the same technology to make an Ebola vaccine as we do to make our “revolutionary” influenza vaccine, Flublok, that was recently licensed by the FDA.  We simply substitute a code for the protective protein for Ebola for the protein for flu.”  He added, “Since we have no need to work with a live virus as is the case with traditional vaccine manufacture or to wait for the virus to be made safe to work with, we believe our approach – making a vaccine consisting of a protein in salt water - is the safest approach to making a vaccine for dangerous viruses.  We also know it is the fastest as we have shown in making vaccines against potential pandemic influenza viruses in just a few weeks.”

The CDC provided the genetic code sequence necessary to develop the vaccine. The NIH will conduct trials on it. Protein Sciences expects to have something to the NIH by the end of the year.

NIH funding has been cut by $1.2 billion over the last four years, before adjusting for inflation, according to a press release from DeLauro’s office.

“Once accounting for inflation, NIH has lost more than 10% of its purchasing power since 2010,” the release states. “The CDC program that supports state and local public health professionals working on the front lines has been cut by 16% over the last four years. The federal Hospital Preparedness program has been cut by an astounding 44% over the last four years.”

DeLauro is the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services, including the NIH and CDC. She is a longtime advocate for increased biomedical funding and worked to double NIH funding between 1998 and 2003, her press release states.