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SBIR Grant Awarded for Infant Respiratory Vaccine

Illustration of lungs (Mikael Häggström/Wikimedia Commons)

(Mikael Häggström/Wikimedia Commons)

GenVec Inc. in Gaithersburg, Maryland received a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at National Institutes of Health to help fund development of the company’s vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus. The phase 1 SBIR grant is valued at some $590,000.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infects the lungs and breathing passages, which can be severe in certain infants, young children, and older adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis — inflammation of the small airways in the lung — and pneumonia in children under 1 year of age in the United States.

The grant awarded to GenVec will support research by the company to better understand the impact of maternal immunity against RSV on the generation of a protective immune response in newborns. This immune response is considered a key factor in the development of an effective vaccine for the pediatric population.

SBIR phase 1 grants establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed research and development program. Phase 1 awards normally do not exceed $150,000 in total costs for six months. Once technical and commercial feasibility have been established, SBIR grantees can qualify for phase 2 and 3 awards to further develop their solutions.

In addition to RSV, GenVec’s development programs address hearing loss and balance disorders, herpes simplex virus, dengue fever, influenza, malaria, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In the area of animal health the company is developing vaccines against foot-and-mouth disease.

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