Merck and NewLink Genetics Corp. said Monday they have entered into a licensing agreement to research, develop, manufacture and distribute NewLink's investigational Ebola vaccine candidate, which is currently in preliminary trials. The candidate, called rVSV-EBOV, was originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The U.S. National Institutes of Health has said it will start a Phase III study in 2015 to evaluate the vaccine, as well as another potential vaccine that is being co-developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Under the terms of their agreement, Merck will have exclusive rights to the vaccine and any related products. Merck shares are up 19.2% in the year so far, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 7.4%. NewLink shares, meanwhile, have gained 60.5% in the year to date.
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