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The quest to develop an Ebola vaccine took a small but significant step forward as regulators on both sides of the Atlantic agreed to conduct speedier reviews of a treatment being developed by Merck.

The US Food and Drug Administration granted what is known as a breakthrough therapy designation for the Merck vaccine, a status reserved for medicines designed to treat a serious or life-threatening illness. At the same time, the European Medicines Agency granted the vaccine Prime status, which refers to a treatment targeting an unmet medical need.


The moves come as Merck looks to gather data from three separate clinical trials and submit the information later this year to regulators in hopes of winning approval to market and distribute its vaccine by the end of 2017.

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