Listeria-based platform will be leveraged against tularemia, HBV, and melanoma.

Aduro BioTech won two Phase 1 SBIR grants together worth more than $250,000 and has become a subcontractor to the  University of New Mexico (UNM) on a $500,285 grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), all aimed at demonstrating applications for the company’s vaccine platform. The technology is based on Listeria monocytogenes, which Aduro has reportedly modified to be safe for human use and to target specific molecules in tumors and infectious diseases.

In its collaboration with UNM Aduro will develop vaccines for tularemia. It expects to build on its previous success with vaccines expressing single antigens. The firm will develop vaccines that express multiple antigens to broaden the immune response.

The two SBIR grants are focused on HBV and melanoma. For the HBV work, Aduro plans on developing a therapeutic vaccine expressing multiple HBV antigens. The firm will be responsible for all preclinical development. The company won $188,315 from NIAID, with Peter M. Lauer, Ph.D., its head of molecular biology, as principal investigator.

Under the SBIR grant covering melanoma, Aduro will work with Nina Bhardwaj, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, pathology, and dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center. The company won $70,847 from NCI, with Dirk G. Brockstedt, Ph.D., Aduro’s vp of R&D, as principal investigator.

Aduro will be responsible for developing a clinical vaccine candidate that expresses two melanoma antigens. Dr. Bhardwaj will evaluate the immune response generated by the vaccine in multiple models. If the preclinical program is successful, Dr. Bhardwaj is expected to be the principal investigator for the Phase I trial.

The SBIR grants and the UNM contract are part of $20 million in funding received by the company for its Listeria platform. The platform has been in development for nine years and, according to the company, has been validated by studies in more than 20 major publications.

The firm’s lead attenuated Listeria vaccine, CRS-207, is engineered to express the tumor-associated antigen mesothelin. In December Aduro announced Phase I results from a study conducted in in 17 end-stage patients with cancers known to express mesothelin: mesothelioma, non-small-cell lung, ovarian, and pancreatic. Analysis after the completion of the trial revealed a mesothelin-specific T-cell response in multiple patients. Despite an expected survival of 3–5 months for all subjects, six out of 17 lived 15 months or longer.

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