The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded an initial two-year, $10 million contract to Public Health Vaccines LLC (PHV), of Cambridge, Mass., to begin development of what could become the first licensed vaccine to protect against Marburg infection. Under the agreement, PHV will conduct preclinical development to demonstrate the proof of concept that the vaccine can protect against the virus. BARDA has the option to provide up to a total of $72 million to advance the vaccine through a phase II trial and begin development of a vaccine candidate against the Sudan ebolavirus, which is closely related to the Marburg virus. Canada's Public Health Agency initially developed the vaccine and licensed it to PHV in an approach similar to the one Merck & Co. Inc. used to develop its Ebola vaccine. Like Ebola, the Marburg virus is deemed a potential bioterrorism threat by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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