South Korean biotech firm SK bioscience has signed a development licensing agreement with Singapore-based Hilleman Laboratories to develop a second-generation Zaire Ebola virus vaccine.

Hilleman Laboratories is a vaccine research firm with a focus on improving accessibility and affordability for low- and middle-income countries.

Under the partnership, both firms will develop an improved Zaire Ebola virus vaccine candidate.

They will also aim to boost the production process productivity and enhance product thermostability to expand access and increase the global Ebola vaccine supply.

SK Bioscience will acquire knowledge and skills for using the rVSV (recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Vector) technological platform in partnership with Hilleman.

This will lead to the cooperative development of additional vaccines against a range of viral infectious diseases.

Hilleman Laboratories CEO Raman Rao said: “Developing vaccines that are more affordable and accessible is core to our mission at Hilleman Laboratories.

“Our collaboration with SK biosciences on such an impactful vaccine program will allow us to create positive outcomes for global public health, especially in affected regions of Central and Western Africa.”

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a fast-progressive, severe and transmissible hemorrhagic disease. It is caused by infection with one of the species of the Ebola Virus.

When the Ebola virus was quickly spreading over West Africa in 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency and pushed for the development of a vaccine.

SK bioscience CEO Jaeyong Ahn said: “Developing a vaccine to prevent viruses causing diseases with a high fatality rate, such as Ebola-Zaire, is an essential task for us to protect humanity.

“By cooperating with Hilleman Laboratories for a successful development of the second-generation Zaire Ebolavirus vaccine we will contribute to overcome the Ebola Zaire disease burden and expand our cooperation with global companies and institutions.”

SK bioscience is a vaccine and biotechnology firm committed to providing vaccines to needy people and improving public healthcare solutions.