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Three Companies Win NIH Biodefense Research Contracts

Mosquito (Germán Meyer)The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded three new contracts to fund research on vaccines and vaccine delivery against dengue fever and anthrax that could be used in a terror attack. Total funding for the three contracts could reach $68 million, depending on the successful completion of defined project milestones.

A dengue vaccine is being developed by Inviragen Inc. of Fort Collins, Colorado. The vaccine is Tetravalent, designed to protect against any of the four related viruses that cause dengue fever. A needle-free system, developed by PharmaJet of Golden, Colorado, will be used to deliver the liquid vaccine through the skin at a high speed. The NIAID award will support clinical testing of the vaccine.

PaxVax Inc. of San Diego, California will develop and test two formulations of an anthrax vaccine that contain a gene known as rPA, which codes for a protein that protected animals from anthrax in previous studies. The gene will be inserted into a carrier virus or vector called adenovirus 4 and the vaccine delivered orally via a capsule. The adenovirus 4 vector is a modified live-virus vaccine that has been studied for more than 40 years and has a good safety profile in humans. Pending review and approval of the Investigational New Drug Application by the Food and Drug Administration, a Phase 1 clinical trial will be conducted to select one of the two formulations for further development.

Emergent Biosolutions of Rockville, Maryland, also will develop and test an anthrax vaccine that consists of Emergent’s BioThrax vaccine combined with an adjuvant that stimulates the immune system’s response. This award will fund manufacturing, stability studies, assay validation, and Phase 2 clinical trial preparation of the vaccine. The investigational vaccine was already tested in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

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Photo: Germán Meyer/Flickr

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