VaxInnate today said it won a $2.2 million, three-year grant from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to fund the development of a recombinant vaccine for the prevention of dengue.
The grant will fund development of a recombinant tetravalent dengue vaccine using VaxInnate’s technology, which involves genetically fusing vaccine antigens to the bacterial protein flagellin, with the goal of dramatically improving the potency, manufacturing capacity, and cost-effectiveness of vaccines.
“We’re pleased to receive this grant and look forward to working with NIAID to develop a vaccine to prevent dengue,” Wayne Pisano, president and CEO of VaxInnate, said in a statement. The mosquito-borne disease kills an estimated 25,000 people annually, of an estimated 100 million cases worldwide.
The NIAID grant is VaxInnate’s fourth funding from the federal government. The company previously received earmarks from the Department of Defense toward developing vaccines to prevent dengue and malaria.
Under a 2011 contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) worth up to $196 million over five years, VaxInnate is using recombinant technology to develop pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines.
VaxInnate’s vaccines are based on its Toll-like receptor (TLR) technology platform, designed to dramatically improve vaccine immunogenicity and efficacy. Using TLR technology, vaccines can be produced by simple, low-cost, highly-scalable recombinant DNA techniques, avoiding many of the challenges and pitfalls of egg-based or cell-culture influenza vaccine production.
The company was founded by Ruslan Medzhitov, Ph.D., and Richard Flavell, Ph.D., both of Yale University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and began operations in 2002 with a research team in New Haven, CT, before expanding and establishing its development team and corporate headquarters in Cranbury, NJ.
VaxInnate has a BSL2+ laboratory operational within its Cranbury site. VaxInnate also has a collaborative arrangement with an unnamed academic institution for access to BSL-3 and BSL-4 biocontainment facilities, enabling the company to conduct live virus challenges in animal models.