RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- AlphaVax, Inc. has been awarded two National Institutes of Health (NIH) biodefense grants to develop new vaccines, using the company's proprietary technology, against two groups of disease-causing agents that could be used potentially in terrorist attacks.
The AlphaVax grants total $16.6 million and were made by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), part of the NIH in Bethesda, Md., an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The first grant for $9.1 million is to develop a vaccine against botulinum neurotoxins, and the second $7.5 million grant is for a vaccine against a group of equine encephalomyelitis viruses that can cause illness in people, as well as horses.
The NIH awards will be spread over four and-a-half-years and will fund pre-clinical development, manufacture of vaccine for clinical trials, and a Phase I clinical study.
AlphaVax received a previous NIH biodefense grant in 2002, a $6 million award for work on a vaccine against Marburg virus. In all three programs, AlphaVax is collaborating with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Md., where work with the disease-causing forms of the biodefense agents will be performed.
USAMRIID is the lead medical research laboratory for the U.S. Biological Defense Research Program, and plays a key role in national defense and in infectious disease research. The institute's mission is to conduct basic and applied research on biological threats resulting in medical solutions (such as vaccines, drugs and diagnostics) to protect the U.S. military personnel. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.
"We are very pleased and proud to receive these important grants and to extend our collaboration with USAMRIID and the NIAID," said Peter Young, AlphaVax president and CEO. "Not only do these awards allow us to contribute to the biodefense effort, they demonstrate the breadth of our vaccine technology's potential."
The AlphaVax vaccine technology is based on its proprietary ArV system. This system has generated increasing scientific interest because of its ability to target the immune system and elicit broad-based immune responses, including significant cellular immunity thought to be critical to successful immune protection against many diseases that have eluded vaccine development. The technology uses a non-propagating form of an alphavirus vector that is engineered to express genes from disease-causing pathogens or cancers.
In addition to biodefense, AlphaVax and its corporate, government and academic partners are using its ArV vaccine technology against many other diseases, such as herpes and prostate cancer, said Young. In July of this year, AlphaVax initiated its first clinical trial with the ArV(TM) system, a Phase I study in HIV, also supported by NIAID and the NIH's HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).
Source: AlphaVax, Inc.